Cheyenne Thomas

Cheyenne Thomas

3rd-year student, Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing

Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki, Ngati Porou, Tūhoe

She has always had a passion for stories, says Cheyenne Thomas who is currently in the third year of her Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing.

“I’ve always loved reading, listening to or telling stories, so when the opportunity to begin university came up, studying creative writing was a no brainer. I did a lot of research into creative writing courses after leaving high school and AUT, in my opinion, always offered the most beneficial creative writing programme. It’s what attracted me to the university in the first place.”

Cheyenne says she would love a career as a published author or a scriptwriter once she graduates, and she is already well on the way towards achieving this goal.

“In 2020, one of my short stories, Seeker, was published by Te Kaharoa, an electronic journal that focuses on indigenous issues in the Pacific region. That was the first time one of my texts was published. I love writing, I love telling stories, and I would love to continue to do so, whether through short stories or novels, or through writing scripts for film.”

Broadening perspectives
Exploring literature in an academic setting broadened her knowledge of writing and media in ways she would never have expected, Cheyenne says.

“I’d recommend this degree to any creative writers who are interested in broadening their knowledge and honing their skills as writers. The Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing challenges you to exceed your own values, perspective and style of writing while engaging with literature and media. It pushes you out of your comfort zone.

“All of my lecturers have had a profound impact on the way I approach my degree. Their unique interests and teaching styles have helped my studies in ways that have not only inspired me to be better at what I do, but to try things that I didn’t think I could do. They’ve inspired me to try new things, to keep challenging my perspective and my skills, and showed me that I can always learn new things.”

Studying during the global COVID-19 pandemic has had its challenges, she admits.

“COVID-19 has had a major impact on my studies. Being without the usual class setting made being productive and motivated to work difficult. The Māori Liaison team helped and supported me academically, mentally and financially. They were always there for me when I needed them, offering a hand or an ear and put me in contact with other support systems. I’d credit the Māori Liaison team for many of my achievements; I don’t think I would have made it this far without them.”

Advice for other students
Now in the final year of her studies, Cheyenne has some great advice for other students.

“One piece of advice I would give other students is a phrase that I’ve used throughout my studies: It’s not as complicated as you think it is. Through my studies I found myself often overthinking assessments and assignments and getting hung up on what I thought my lecturers wanted from me, and it was difficult to get out of my own head.

“Sometimes all I needed was a reminder that the assessments and assignments are explicit in what they want and need from me and if that didn’t work, I could always email my lecturers if I was unsure about something or needed to have something explained further.”

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