One of Shenaegh Hayden's aims in life is to inspire youth to pursue positive choices in their lives. Leading by example, her own decision to study information and communications technology at CPIT (now Ara Institute of Canterbury) could be just the inspiration they need.
Shenaegh, who has been immersed in tikanga Māori all her life and is fluent in te reo, says she'd always been interested in IT.
"I enjoyed programming, tinkering with computers and designing websites, and I found I was always opinionated when it came to technology – like how I could improve certain aspects of various things. So I thought, why not take a course that would lead me to a career enabling me to actually improve things and be part of the technological world."
She chose to study at CPIT having spent time at the institute while still at high school. "At Te Whānau Tahi we had a lot to do with the Māori courses at CPIT. I found it to be a comfortable study environment, which led me to study here once I'd finished kura."
Shenaegh is enjoying the balance of hands-on and theory work her programme provides, and the variety of content within her first year of study. "Each class focuses on a different aspect of IT, such as networking and programming, and this has really helped me decide which aspect I want to study further."
She appreciates the many opportunities her programme provides to visit IT businesses and network with working IT professionals and she's impressed with the dedication of her tutors.
"The greatest strength of the programme is the tutors. They're hardworking and extremely helpful and they put the time and effort into ensuring each student understands the course content. The support here is absolutely amazing."
Shenaegh's goal is to have a career in information and communications technology, which she says will allow her to work "at amazing places all over the world". Beyond study, Shenaegh has received recognition as a rangatahi (youth) leader for her involvement in the community, where her enthusiasm for learning has undoubtedly been an inspiration to others.