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From Shy to Shining

01 December 2023
Teen female with hat edited

At just 17 years old, Hana* had learned not to ask for much in life. Growing up in a challenging home environment with no positive role models meant she faced numerous obstacles.

Her father's battle with addiction and her mother's absence had left Hana without the support and guidance she desperately needed growing up.

Despite these hardships, Hana held a silent dream within her. She aspired to have a meaningful job and a brighter future. Although Hana had left school after intermediate, she held a passion for animals and dreamt of being a veterinary nurse.

I wasnt sure where Id end up but I just knew I wanted something better.

Cassie*, one of our Youth coaches, met with Hana and saw she needed support with the challenges she faced. Cassie understood that building trust and rapport with Hana was essential, as she was exceptionally shy and lacked confidence. Her early departure from school had left her anxious about learning and unsure of her potential.

With Cassie's support, Hana began to envision a different future. Cassie encouraged her to explore her education options, and together, they visited the local Polytechnic’s open day.

It was there that Hana was drawn to the Animal Technology course—a hands-on programme that resonated deeply with her interests. Although her English skills were not strong, Hana was introduced to the Student Support Learning Services.

Hana embarked on her Polytech journey with trembling nerves, and unfortunately experienced a debilitating panic attack on her very first day. Knowing that it was Hana’s first day, Cassie messaged her to see how it was going.

Hana said she was struggling and was hiding away in the toilets. Cassie reached out to Student Services who were eager to help. They found Hana, helped her overcome her panic attack, and once she was calm, they then walked her to class.

During their regular meetings, Hana confided in Cassie about the challenges she faced in managing her daily routine. She was struggling to get through the day at the course and experienced low energy and fatigue. Her food and nutritional intake were not enough to get through the day. Initially, Hana was hesitant to accept a handout, but with gentle encouragement, she began accessing the free lunch available at Polytech.

Cassie helped Hana change her thinking around receiving a free lunch and suggested that when she has a job, she can pay it forward and offer help to someone else in need. Hana liked this idea.

I wasnt sure where Id end up but I just knew I wanted something better. 1
Time to Shine!

As time passed, Hana found her confidence in the classroom and forged friendships with fellow students, despite saying she was determined not to. Her tutor witnessed a remarkable change. Hana’s self-esteem blossomed as she immersed herself in the assignments.

Her self-determination soared, leading her to join Polytech's fitness class and kapa haka group, enriching her life beyond studying. “I’m striving hard, and it’s starting to pay off!” Hana stated to Cassie in one of their catch-ups.

Young teen student with backpack edited 2

Throughout the year, Hana achieved numerous milestones. She successfully completed several projects, including a placement in a local vet, and mastering her presentation skills. Her newfound confidence even extended to her personal life, as she embarked on a romantic journey and attended her boyfriend’s school ball—a significant milestone for a young woman who had never experienced such events before.

“What a transformation! This young woman had the courage to challenge herself and build a positive future”, Cassie shared. “It’s amazing to see Hana reach for her dreams”.

Hana is now looking at life with a different lens and is considering a Diploma as her next step. She's even set her sights on getting her driver's license, which will open more opportunities for her. Hana’s eager to find a part-time job over the summer so she can save some money and enjoy some fun activities with her boyfriend.

*Names and photos have been changed to protect privacy.

Help Young People Shine!

Youth coaches walk alongside young people helping to navigate the complexities often involved with different supports and services.

Support brighter minds and better futures! 

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