3rd-year student, Bachelor of Arts in Māori Development
She would highly recommend studying Māori development, says Sueann Wichman-Yukich who is currently completing a Bachelor of Arts in Māori Development, with minors in te reo Māori and education.
“The Māori development programme is a great way to get yourself into the academic word and create some awesome networks while you’re at university. The huge benefit of studying in AUT’s Te Ara Poutama faculty, the Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Development, is that you can bring your Māoritanga with you. You don’t have to leave any part of you at home. That’s a huge advantage when you’re studying at a Pākehā institution.”
Now in the final year of her studies, Sueann is already looking forward to applying what she has learnt throughout her studies to support her community.
“I’d like to have a career that supports my hapū and iwi in the Hokianga, whether it be hapū development, youth development or being the principal of the local primary school. When I first moved from my small town in the Hokianga to the big smoke of Tāmaki Makaurau, it was awesome, new and exciting. However, now the quietness of home, the dark nights and the peacefulness calls my name.”
For Sueann, the university journey started when she decided she wanted more than a factory job.
“I left school at the beginning of Year 11 and worked in a number of factory jobs in Auckland until I eventually got tired of that and decided I wanted a career where I could make a difference to my community and move home to the Hokianga. I initially considered studying youth development but when my chosen degree was no longer offered, it was easy to choose AUT’s Bachelor of Arts in Māori Development because I knew I wanted to do something to do with Māori.”
The whānau environment is what she has enjoyed most about studying at AUT.
“As a mature student, the best part about my studies at AUT has been the sense of whānau that is built through the Takawaenga Māori Services (Māori Liaisons), the Te Ara Poutama faculty, the Office of Māori Advancement and the Māori student association, Titahi ki tua. Without the support and sense of belonging created through these avenues, my university experience would have been a lot more daunting.”
Advice for other students
Sueann’s advice for other students is simple: use the support available to you.
“The main advice I’d like to give to students present or future is to take advantage of the support that is available to you while you’re studying at AUT. If you’re having any trouble understanding what you need to do, ask your lecturer or your classmates, and make use of the peer mentors for academic support.”
Sueann knows what she is talking about – as a peer mentor herself, she enjoys sharing her knowledge with other students.
“After my first year at AUT, I was given the opportunity to become a Tuakana peer mentor for first-year Māori students. That was an awesome achievement because you needed to have a B+ average grade along with other leadership qualities. I’m currently in my second year in this role, and I take pride in helping more Māori students navigate the academic word and strive for greatness.”