Pasifika NCEA students will have the opportunity to participate in a free study programme during the holidays, thanks to the generous support of Graduate Women Canterbury (GWC).
GWC is a not for profit that operates the hire of academic regalia for graduating students, and uses the proceeds for scholarships and sponsorships at Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury, Lincoln University and Ara Institute of Canterbury.
This year GWC is supporting UCMeXL, the University’s outreach programme that aims to help Pacific students achieve higher results in all NCEA levels and increase their likelihood of participating in tertiary education. Open to all high school students in Canterbury, the programme has been going for 10 years.
Nineteen-year-old Eseta-Claire Navunisaravi is currently working towards her BA at UC, with a major in Political Science and International Relations, and a minor in Māori and Indigenous Studies. She is also a recipient of the Takere scholarship, UC’s biggest Pacific and Māori scholarship.
Eseta-Claire attended UCMeXL in her final two years of high school.
“To be honest with you, it helped me in more ways than I thought it capable of. At first, I expected to be studying the whole time, but what I didn’t expect was the hands on tutoring, lessons to help us understand more, group activities and creating relationships with people that I still have today. It’s one of my most memorable experiences during high school, and it’s something that I can guarantee many other students in high school feel as well.”
Luseta Filiai, also 19, participated in UCMeXL throughout her high school years.
“It helped me both with education and socially. I was able to get extra help with internal exams I had or work I was given during the holidays. It helped especially in Year 12 with the UE requirements.
“XL’s many activities and ice breakers, benefitted me socially as I got to know more students around Canterbury from different sides of the city. The team behind XL made themselves approachable throughout my experience which has given me a great feeling of safety being a current UC student studying Social Work.”
Megan Clayton, Chair of GWC, says they want to encourage a stronger community through further education for wāhine. In 2022 they are funding the UCMeXL Afterschool programme and the October study programme.
“We were pleased to have the opportunity to support UC’s UCMeXL because of its proven record of connecting Pasifika students with opportunities for academic success through its study programmes.
“With young Pasifika wāhine making up the majority of students in the October programme in 2021, we saw this as a way to contribute to creating opportunities for students who are under-represented in tertiary education. It’s a privilege to be able to partner with initiatives of this kind,” Megan says.
Viane Makalio, UC’s Pacific Engagement Coordinator, says they saw incredible growth in the number of Pasifika students attending UCMeXL in 2021.
“Even with all the changes that we needed to make because of Covid, UCMeXL was a huge success last year. More than 130 students attended our July programme and over 150 in October. In the past, we’ve typically had between 60-80 in July programme and 90- 110 in our October programme.”
The latest initiative by GWC continues their support for UC. In 2020-21 they funded the Moana Rising programme, and last year the UC Women’s Research Symposium.
GWC has seven trustees who make up the Trust Board. They have a shared commitment to the equity and advancement of women. They have experience working across New Zealand tertiary education, non-profit and business and as graduates from a number of tertiary institutions including UC.