Jensina Phillips came to UCOL looking for a new direction in life.
She had been working as dispensary technician, but a knee injury prevented her from doing it anymore. After mulling over her options with UCOL staff, she found that Social Work was ideal for her.
Having also worked as a Nanny and a Teacher, Jensina was looking for a course where she could use some of her previous work skills, have an impact on people’s lives, and push herself to grow. She found that the Bachelor of Social Work programme met all of her needs.
With the Bachelor of Social Work being delivered online in partnership with Open Polytechnic, Jensina can fit her studies around her family and work commitments.
“This is the most convenient way to study for me as a single parent with a teenager. My daughter is a dancer, and I wouldn’t be able to take her to all of her rehearsals if I had to go to lectures at certain times.”
“This is such an awesome way to study, because you don’t have to stop your life. I didn’t have to uproot my daughter from where she is.”
The highpoint of the course for Jensina so far was doing her placement with the Oasis Network, a mental health peer support, education, and advocacy service. From that she was able to build relationships that landed her a part-time job as a Carer.
“I wasn’t sure what area of social work I wanted to go into. However, after working with the Oasis Network I’ve realised that I really want to get into the mental health sector because there just aren’t enough advocates for people who suffer from mental health conditions.”
Jensina found getting back into study to be quite a challenge, particularly as a distance student, but with discipline and the support of UCOL and Open Polytechnic she’s now half way through the four year degree.
“UCOL has really helped. We’ve got a Support Tutor who meets with us in person each week, but is also just a phone call or email away if you need help.”
“I don’t think I could have got this far without the joint support of UCOL and Open Polytechnic. It’s just amazing that I have access to not only the Open Polytechnic library, but all of the UCOL libraries with their incredibly talented librarians as well.”
Jensina enjoys the freedom of being able to study on UCOL’s Wairarapa campus or at home, depending on how she feels when she wakes up.
“What I like about being able to go into UCOL is that you could be in the Learning Hub and someone from hairdressing might come running through saying ‘I need someone who wants curls’, and all of a sudden you’re taking your course material with you and you’re having your hair done. It’s great to be able to help other students like that.”
“On the other hand, if you don’t feel like getting out of your pyjamas and you just feel like studying on your couch, that’s the other option.”
Once she graduates, Jensina wants to work for a non-governmental organisation in the mental health sector.
“It’s the grass roots of where we need to be supporting people. I’d like to work with people to help them find their inner strength, in a counselling or family support kind of role.”
Oasis Network, based in the Hutt Valley, New Zealand, provides peer support, advocacy and education services to people in the Hutt Valley and Wairarapa. Its service is underpinned by the recovery principles of Personhood, Basis Needs, Social Connectedness, Citizenship, Empowerment, and Best Practice Culture.