Double degree puts business goals in reach

Personal growth was a priority for Xavier Ngaata when he started university. The double degree graduate is now confidently pursuing his passion for business.

UC graduate Xavier Ngaata is celebrating the successful completion of a double-degree in Commerce and Law.

Xavier (Ngāi Tahu, Cook Island Māori/Samoan) remembers struggling academically through his high school years but didn’t hesitate to enrol at Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury (UC) in 2017 to undertake a double degree in Commerce and Law.

“The main motivator for me was my own self-development. I chose Law and Commerce as the ultimate combination to help me grow my skills and capabilities.”

He graduated with a UC Bachelor of Commerce last year and will shortly graduate with a UC Bachelor of Laws degree.

For Xavier, who is challenged by dyslexia, academic success has been hard won. Throughout his studies, it often took him longer to learn than other students. In 2018, he recalls falling well behind in core Law and Commerce papers.

“When you’re at that point, you have to find a way to believe in yourself and really put in the hours to try and do your best. My attitude is that even when you’re failing, you’re still growing. Looking back, I can now see how far I’ve come. I had never been a good writer, but at UC I’ve learned so much about analysing and writing and have grown a lot as a person too. My GPA may not be the best, but I still worked part-time in Community Law and was able to secure a summer internship at a good law firm, [Anderson Lloyd].”

Xavier appreciates that his interpersonal skills are valuable assets in their own right when it comes to building effective connections with other people and making the most of new experiences.

“It’s good to be put in places outside your comfort zone – it helps you to grow.”

While he didn’t make full use of all the student support available at UC, he knew they were there if needed and is grateful for tutors that went the extra mile, particularly in his first year.

Xavier can see attractive opportunities in the legal profession, but says his true passion is business and it’s where he sees his future. He is working with a mentor to help guide him on next steps.

“Ultimately, I’d like to run my own business or else have a role in strategic business growth. My experience at UC has fully changed me as a person. I really feel like I think differently now. My goal was to become smarter and more competent, and UC has been a good platform in helping me to achieve that outcome.”