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Young mum works for her dreams

Mere Kawana, 19, recipient of a Kia Manawanui award. PHOTO/EMILY IRELAND

EMILY IRELAND
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As a graduate of the Wairarapa Teen Parent Unit, Mere Kawana will be fulfilling her dreams next year as she launches into tertiary study to become a bilingual primary school teacher.

It hasn’t been an easy road for Kawana, 19, who was one of three graduates from the Masterton-based education unit for teen mothers moving forward with their lives.

She dropped out of Makoura College at the age of 15 and became pregnant with her son Tory-Jason [TJ] a year later.

A domestic violence survivor, Kawana joined the TPU in February 2016 to finish her education, and over the past three years has pushed through various hardships to achieve NCEA at levels 1, 2 and 3.

She also has a first aid certificate, a full driver’s licence, and a Level 3 national certificate in early childhood education.

At Wednesday’s TPU Celebration of Success, Kawana was awarded scholarships from He Huarahi Tamariki Trust, Carterton Rotary, as well as a $10,000 TeachNZ scholarship.

She will be studying a Bachelor of Bilingual Primary Teaching next year at Te Wananga o Raukawa in Otaki.

Kawana and fellow student Quanita Russo, 17, were the recipients of the school’s Kia Manawanui award, given to students who consistently demonstrate courage and compassion in their learning and relationships with others.

The two women were also given a Whaia te Tika award [doing what is right], a Whaia te Pono award [seeking wisdom through learning in all situations], and a Whaia te Aroha award [caring and supporting others in need].

TPU manager Prue Smith said the school year had been filled with “learning, and of course lots of babies”.

“It always fills me with great pride talking about the achievements of our wahine,” she said.

“This year we have had 28 students and have welcomed eight new babies.”

She congratulated the students on putting their education first as they embarked on their journeys into motherhood.

“This is by far the best way to maximise opportunities for yourself and your family.

“As Dr Seuss said in Oh the Places You’ll Go, ‘you have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself in any direction you choose’.”

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