Ara Timaru graduation acknowledges challenges and success

News News & events

19 Feb 2018

Student representative Michelle Brown spoke of her return to study after three decades, while Chief Executive Tony Gray underlined the many study choices available to students at Ara Institute of Canterbury’s Timaru graduation celebration on 15 February.

Some 80 people graduated in person and 400 people attended the event at the Southern Events Trust Centre. An additional 281 people graduated in absentia.

Michelle Brown addresses the audience at the Timaru Graduation ceremony.

“The decision to study, to better your outlook and follow your passion, for me that decision was a hard one,” Brown told the audience at the event. “I had left high school a number of years ago… well about 30 years in fact, so the choice was a daunting one. Would I understand the material or could I write an essay anymore. While not everyone came to Ara in the same circumstances, I’m sure all of us had some questions like this.”

Graduate Michelle Brown with one of her business tutors Frina Albertyn.

See the album of graduation photos

Brown graduated with a New Zealand Diploma of Business, which she studied by video conferencing at home in Methven. She will continue on to the Bachelor of Applied Management, with a double degree in Human Resource Management and Accounting specialisations, this year.

Chief Executive Tony Gray acknowledged the achievements of all the graduates. “Some of you come from family and whanau where involvement with tertiary education has been emphasised and perhaps even expected,” he said. “For others of you today, you possibly become the very first member of your family and whanau to graduate. But, no matter what your starting point, as of today you have the potential for boundless opportunities ahead of you. You join thousands of other students who have not only undertaken their studies at Ara, but who have had their own lives changed and as a result are making a significant positive difference to the social, economic and cultural wellbeing of South Canterbury and the wider Canterbury region!”  

Gray reinforced the institute’s commitment to South Canterbury and acknowledged teething problems in the transition to a region-wide institute.

“Ara is committed to growing and investing in provision for South Canterbury – the introduction of the Nursing degree, Food Processing and Electrical programmes as well as new Business Studies strands of accounting, leadership and management, and Managed Apprenticeships in Engineering and Carpentry plus a strong cohort of over 50 International students, is all about development and investment in Timaru and its surrounds.”

“Students rightly want a variety of good value, study options and flexible delivery that can fit with their busy lives; industry wants highly responsive training that improves their productivity and keeps young people in the region; and communities want accessible provision that meets the needs of a diverse population. Our challenge is to achieve these outcomes across the region; as you all know well, particularly in South Canterbury, we still have some way to go!  

“The facts are however that Ara has some of the best student achievement in the country, not only in course and qualification success but also in employment outcomes following study.”

Council Chair, political expert Thérèse Arseneau spoke of the similarities in size and outlook between Timaru and the town where she grew up in Canada. She recalled her first speech, at her own graduation ceremony, and encouraged students to find their own way to success.  

Read more: Timaru Herald coverage of graduation