Sophie Le has always wanted to determine her own future. That is why the New Zealand high school system has such appeal. “I was able to choose what subjects to study. At home in Viet Nam, most of the schools decide for you.”
Sophie arrived in Palmerston North five and a half years ago, following her aunt, who had come to New Zealand two years earlier. While her family remains in her hometown of Phan Rang, Sophie lives with her aunt and cousins, who help make ‘Palmy’ feel like a home.
Sophie started to consider Nursing as a career while studying at high school, firstly as a Year 11 and 12 student at Awatapu College, then in Year 13 at Freyberg High School.
“I’ve always found human interactions and science really interesting,” she says. “Chemistry, Physics, and Biology were always my favourite subjects.
“I started to work for the local hospital in my last two years of high school as a cleaner, and now as a Health Care Assistant in the first year of my Nursing degree,” says Sophie. “I wanted to experience the healthcare environment and see how it worked. I then decided to do the Bachelor of Nursing with UCOL, and I think I have made a good choice. This is me.”
That’s not to say it wasn’t without its difficulties. “It was quite a shock when I started my first year of Nursing because it was harder than I thought it would be,” she says. “My grades were not particularly good in that year. Studying Nursing is a big challenge for me as English is my second language and there are so many medical terminologies in Nursing. It is like studying two different languages at the same time!”
Sophie coyly admits she sometimes missed hearing the revision notes for exams from her lecturers. “Luckily my friends were always ready and happy to share theirs. They support me so we can achieve our goals together. They are one of the greatest things that has happened to me during my study at UCOL.”
The twenty-one-year-old says that good friends, along with supportive lecturers, have been the key to her growing confidence in English, essay writing, and exam studying, among other skills.
Sophie will finish her UCOL Bachelor of Nursing programme in November this year and graduate in 2022.
Her aim is to eventually specialise and be a Nurse Practitioner or Clinical Nurse Specialist.
“Nursing is a broad career, so I still have not decided what I want to specialise in yet. My plan after graduation is to start in a general medical or surgical area to gain as much as experience, skills, and knowledge as possible. I want to be ready for the next big step.”