From Whakatane to Arizona, via Waikato

Devon Seymour, University of Waikato – Tauranga graduate, from Whakatane. Image Supplied.

Whakatane girl Devon Seymour is a long way from home.

Currently on an exchange programme at Arizona State University as part of her graduate studies at the University of Waikato, Devon took her own advice and got comfortable with being uncomfortable.

“Live out of your comfort zone!” says Devon, a Bachelor of Social Sciences graduate at the University of Waikato in Tauranga, who is now studying a Master of Applied Psychology in Behaviour Analysis.

“When you’re new at uni, almost everybody is feeling shy and awkward, so get out of your comfort zone. Start by introducing yourself to people in your classes. Begin building those connections and it will make your time at university all that more enjoyable.”

If it weren’t for the fact the she’s currently in Arizona, Devon would happily share this piece of advice in person to anyone attending the University of Waikato’s Information session in Whakatane on Wednesday October 24.

The event is for families and communities, to get information about what university education has to offer for young people.

Taking place at the Lightning Hub in Whakatane from 4.30pm, the university’s friendly student advisers will be on hand to offer guidance on all aspects of undergraduate study.

Devon, who attended Apanui Primary School, Whakatane Intermediate and Trident High School, says she’s fortunate to have parents who recognised the importance of gaining an education as an investment for the future.

“I have a strong attachment to the Bay of Plenty and wanted to remain a part of this community. Tauranga was only a short distance from home and the University of Waikato in Tauranga offered a leading education in a beautiful location.”

In early 2019, the University of Waikato is opening a new campus in the heart of Tauranga City. The University is leading the development on behalf of the Bay of Plenty Tertiary Partnership, comprised of the University of Waikato, Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi, and Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology.

Devon – who plans to become a registered psychologist practising applied behavioural psychology in a role where she can create a sustainable, positive change in society – says that, initially, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do after high school.

“My English teacher at Trident High Scholl, Ms Bowe, really opened my eyes up to analysing the world through a psychological lens. These classes really made me realise my passion for psychology and how it can be used to help others,” she says.

When asked about the highlights of her time studying Devon, of Whakatohea, Ngati Hikairo, Ngati Rangiwewehi descent, identifies the Te Ahurutanga Maori student leadership programme during her second year.

“Being surrounded by Maori who were so proactive in their communities and created such an encouraging environment for others to learn and develop their use of Te Reo was one of the most supportive environments I have ever had the pleasure of being involved in.”

As for other tips for anyone considering the path of university study, Devon says, be ready to be different, to take who you are into this pathway, and play to your strengths. It takes every different personality type to improve the world.”

The Whakatane Information Session is open to all, so bring your whanau and your questions. Light refreshments will be provided on the night.

To register visit: waikato.ac.nz/go/info. 


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