Students receive senior scholar awards

30 March 2015
Senior scholars Nicola Fannin and Sally Usher

The Faculty of Education’s Northland campus celebrated their newest graduates in Whangarei on Friday 27 March.

Thirty-one graduands attended the graduation ceremony with their families after parading through the main streets of Whangarei to cheers and applause from family and bystanders.

Among them were two of the University’s highest achieving students.

Nicola Fannin and Sally Usher received University of Auckland Senior Scholar awards for attaining the highest marks in their undergraduate teaching programme. This places them within the top 10 per cent of high-achieving students at the University of Auckland.

Lindsay Laing said, “it shows the quality of education provided up here in Whangarei is on par with what they get in the big city. Students who are able to apply themselves can achieve excellent results.”

Sally Usher said it was the “icing on the cake” to an enjoyable three years at the faculty’s Tai Tokerau Campus in Whangarei.

A former magazine journalist, Sally decided to change careers and study teaching during the same year her two children started at university and Police College.

“I didn’t get a chance to go to university and I really regretted it. I said to them [children], I’d like to do that and they said, ‘it’s not too late, you can’. So we all started our degrees in 2012 … and I’m the only one to graduate,” she laughed.

Nicola Fannin’s daughter also impacted her study, but for a very different reason.

Nicola, a former professional ballerina, gave birth to her first daughter at the beginning of her third year of the Bachelor of Education (Teaching) Primary.

Despite having six months off her study to focus on being a new mum she returned with the same commitment and determination she began with.

“I really wanted this. I had high expectations of myself. I was fortunate to have a great support network during my study.”

Nicola said studying as a mature-aged student worked in her favour. She believes that having some life experience behind her helped to stay focused on her goal.

Both Sally and Nicola secured teaching positions at the end of last year. Sally is at Ruakaka School and Nicola is at Kamo Intermediate.