Being awarded a scholarship gave Caitlyn Nevard-Tolley, of iwi Ngāi Tahu faith in what she was doing and saw her complete her Level 4 New Zealand Certificate in Food and Beverage Service in 2018.
Caitlyn was keen to continue her studies in Hospitality as bartending and working in this industry is her passion. While already studying for her
Level 3 Certificate, she discovered that her tutor at UCOL had put her forward for the Māori Pasifika Trades Training (MPTT) Initiative Scholarship to go on and study the
level 4 food and beverage.
“Really, the scholarship gave me a free pass. It was really cool to be given that opportunity, it was the encouragement I needed. I honestly think this is great.”
While growing up Caitlyn didn’t always identify with her Māori background, and sometimes struggled with not having a sense of belonging, but being recognised by MPTT has been a part of her reconnecting with her iwi and being able to identify with her roots.
When reflecting on her childhood, Caitlyn feels a sense of pride knowing that she “didn’t become a statistic”, and in fact, that what she has experienced has made her the woman she is today, a woman she is proud of. Now 27 years old, she has a wealth of wisdom. The MPTT initiative has been a part her personal growth; how she recognises herself, and her belief in supporting kiwis in both education and economy.
This scholarship took some financial pressure off Caitlyn’s shoulders, it also pushed her to continue working hard and making good grades but even more so she says;
“It’s not even about the marks for me, it’s about the knowledge, and it is knowledge I can bring with me into the job.”
She said the good thing about studying hospitality at this level has meant that she was able to walk straight into work.
Caitlyn had the confidence after her training to walk into local businesses and even had her pick as to where to take a job. A week after her search she had gained employment in a local bar,
The Celtic Inn
, where she has been for the past eight months and she is thriving. She says the combination of life-lessons from her own experience and her training mean that she can handle the job no matter what. She has developed the resilience to handle any of the pressures that come with the job but also has the training to go with her craft.
Through this experience, Caitlyn has felt encouraged to continue pursuing higher education;
“I had made a promise to myself, only one more student loan after my Level 3 certificate, but now because of MPTT, it has opened it up for me to be able to do tourism in the future.”
Eventually, she plans to further her skills and education in the hospitality and tourism industry, with the goal of working on a cruise ship.
This scholarship is open to such a wide age range of students which Caitlyn believes is a truly special thing; “I may not have taken this up when I was younger, being older now I’m more in the place to do it.”
Out of the course and in the workforce for the past few months she is still feeling the support of the leadership in UCOL’s MPTT programme.
“Kelly and Adrian from UCOL were always asking after us and they continue to show their support even by coming in to work to visit.”
Caitlyn’s advice to anyone who is interested in MPTT courses is “Make sure you’ve got the dedication, you have to be dedicated to your choice. Play hard, work harder.”