Mother-of-four Lisa Hemopo hadn't studied "properly" for 30 years when she enrolled in a Diploma in Civil Engineering at CPIT (now Ara Institute of Canterbury) but she felt the time was right to make the brave move into full time study.
At the time, she was employed in an administrative role at Orion - one of the country's largest electricity network providers. Many of her colleagues were technicians and engineers and it was at Orion that she became inspired to get into an engineering career.
Lisa's qualification didn't come easily, however. She says she took all the help that was on offer at CPIT and worked extremely hard to understand the concepts.
"I came in not having a basic background from high school – that would have helped. To improve my maths I took advantage of the tutors available through the learning support programme. They know it's hard to learn maths and to catch the basics and they offered me the extra help."
Lisa is proud of what she's accomplished. "With the help of my fellow students we nutted things out together - I wasn't the only one who was having difficulties! Even though I was one of the older students I connected with them. We were all on the same page, trying to understand the subject and complete our assignments. We pooled our knowledge and helped each other through."
Just as Lisa sat her last exam, Orion asked her to come and work for them again - this time as an engineering assistant. "I'm proud to be part of a company that has strong purpose and values and pulls together as a team whenever the need arises," she says.
As Lisa's life continues to expand she continues to be open to new possibilities. She's
taking Māori studies courses at A and is keen to mentor young Māori engineering students.
"Nine times out of 10 it is very rare to see a Māori who is comfortable with maths and calculus. I'd like to be called on to support anyone who needs my help."