Graduates’ sweet moments of success after sacrifice

News News & events

14 Sep 2017

Every person graduating this Friday at the Ara Spring Graduation Ceremony deserves the highest praise for their hard work and their achievement.

Melissa Middlemiss knows as much as any of them the sacrifices required and when she steps up to receive her Bachelor of Nursing it will be a very sweet moment indeed.

She is most looking forward to “wearing the hat and the gown, being recognised for all the hard work and having my two children and husband there, making them proud, and getting the photos that will stay on the wall for life – there will be no excuse for my children not to study now that I have done it!”

Last week Melissa began her “dream job” at St George’s Hospital, where she also completed her final placement.

She returned to study at 35 years of age, after 10 years of travelling and working in the travel industry, with the determination of the mature age student and the organisational skills of being a mother of two.

“I was working part time in administration and I thought, ‘no I’m going to bite the bullet and study’. I’ve got another 25 years of working yet, I might as well spend it doing something I love. Right from high school I always had nursing in the back of mind.”

Melissa first completed the Pre-health Certificate at Ara to get back into study mode, which was the perfect preparation she said. Her husband, who is self-employed, and family provided practical support, but even so, “I had my moments,” she said. “There were times it was challenging.”

Finding the balance between study and family, Melissa was able to take six months off before her youngest went to school and then returned to blitz the rest of her studies. Another great support was the friends she made at Ara, ones that she knows will be “for life”.

“She is a great example to her fellow students that perseverance and passion for what you do is essential,” Ara Nursing Lecturer Kate Pugh said. “Repeatedly patients and their family went out of their way to provide feedback on her professionalism and knowledge during her last student clinical placement.”

This spring ceremony 325 students are graduating in person at the Horncastle Arena (from 900 students in total graduating in person or absentia); 180 will be awarded Bachelor’s degrees, 379 receive diplomas and 341 will receive certificates.

New Chief Executive Tony Gray will attend his first Ara graduation, as will new Council Chair Dr. Thérèse Arseneau.

Guest speaker is another motivated woman and mother, award winning social entrepreneur Lisa King. Lisa founded Eat My Lunch, a social enterprise business launched in 2015 to ensure no children goes to school hungry. For every lunch bought, Eat My lunch Gives a lunch to a Kiwi kid in need.

Lisa put her 15 years of experience marketing some of the country’s biggest food brands towards making a positive impact in the community. In the first 2 years, Eat My Lunch made 900,000 lunches, with 450,000 given to kids in 48 low-decile schools in Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington. 

Eat My Lunch has received numerous awards including three Westpac Auckland Business Awards in 2016, Deloittes Fast 50 Rising Star - One to Watch, TVNZ Marketing Awards 2016, NZ Innovation Awards 2015, and Lisa was awarded the 2016 Women of Influence Award in Business Enterprise.

Ara Spring Graduation is at 10am, Horncastle Arena, this Friday 15 September.