At the age of 49, Trina Johnson reckons she has finally found her real purpose and vocation.
Emerging from some difficult and long-term personal challenges, Trina says she needed time to heal herself. “When I got ‘right’, I realised my desire to help others going through their own tough times.”
It was a twist of fate that she became a student at UCOL’s Manawatū campus. “I was here with my son’s partner checking out courses for her,” says Trina.
“I looked at the one-year Certificate in Health and Wellbeing (Social and Community Services) programme and it really interested me. Unfortunately, it was full.”
After a chat with UCOL Senior Lecturer Kim Fry, Trina was encouraged to ‘go big’ and enrol for the three-year Bachelor of Social Services degree.
“Within a week I was sitting in the classroom!”
Trina’s experience at secondary school was a rocky one and she had left without any qualifications.
She admits the idea of studying again heightened her self-doubt and anxiety levels to begin with, but not for long.
“I soon discovered that I love the class environment, the research, the learning.”
“My classmates are amazing, and we have great debates and discussions, regardless of our range of ages,” she says.
Trina also feels well supported by her lecturers and the student support services offered by UCOL.
“They go that extra mile to help you and make you feel comfortable and secure.”
Trina says her partner Todd, parents and two adult children are her biggest supporters.
“They are all really proud of me for taking this on.”
At the halfway point in her degree, Trina has already planned her career course.
“I want to work in the field of prison rehabilitation as a Social Services Support Worker, helping inmates and their families.”
Trina says it is the first time in her life that she feels she is on the right path.
“I had to go through a lot to learn who I am. All those years of testing life and personal experience weren’t wasted though; they relate directly to my studies,” she says.
“This degree has helped me discover me.”