Not knowing exactly what was in store, Heneriata Te Whata, packed her bags in Tautoro with a plan of becoming a vet and moved to Palmerston North.
Now it's three years later and instead of cradling a cat, Heneriata is holding a piece of Manawatū Māori Rugby history with a brand new jersey designed by herself with history, culture and love as the foundations for it's existence.
So how does one create a career like this? A Bachelor of Creative Media is how.
"I moved to Palmerston North to study veterinary science. The longer I studied it, the more I ealised I was less of a lecture hall person and more of a get-up-and-do-it person. I decided to give Creative Media at UCOL a shot and I don't regret it."
"I love the relaxed, community environment. The hands-on style of learning suits me and I've gained so much from it."
Heneriata has been paving the way for Māori artists after taking up an internship project with Manawatū Māori Rugby which saw her designing their new jersey with a deep understanding of Manawatū history lovingly crafted on its threads.
"It's so exciting to think the team will be wearing my design, that ih ave created a piece of history that will be passed on."
"When I graduate I want to continue to use my heritage and sense of community to benefit people. I would like to create murals and run workshops for anyone to come to."
"My advice to anyone who's thinking of studying what I've studied, or any programme at all, is just try. You never know until you try. Even if you don't think you're good enough, come into UCOL and talk to people here, find out what might suit you. It can be intimidating until you get started. Then you get to look back and say I did that. Better to look back and say I tried than look back and think 'I wish I had tried."