Meet Marietta, senior enrolment officer and the first point of contact at Te Auaha for aspiring students and inquisitive parents. Marietta maintains a close connection to students, helping them feel supported from their first day with us, to graduation and beyond.
A cheery Wellingtonian Marietta has more than 30 years of experience working for tertiary providers in New Zealand. She says working in education is like “being on a yellow brick road” a colourful path she doesn’t want to leave. After many years living in the Hawkes Bay, she decided to return home to Wellington to be closer to family and took on the task of building a house, primarily over email and something she doesn’t recommend. “There were just a few slip-ups, like oops there’s a door missing here!” A keen problem solver she enjoys a challenge.
I think it’s important for parents to encourage their child’s strengths and passion, let them go, give them a chance to follow their dream and you will be surprised how successful they become if they stick at it.
What does a typical day look like for you at Te Auaha?
“My role is to advise students and parents on future pathways for tertiary study. I’m a one-stop person here, I consult with parents who bring in their children from school wanting to know what they can study at Te Auaha. Once the students come in and see the campus it makes a huge difference, it opens their eyes” she says. They see examples of student work, such as the miniatures in the Digital Fabrication Lab and they are inspired. “It’s important that after seeing me they can go away with as much information as possible to make an informed decision and they are aware of all the student support we provide. A lot of students, especially in the Performing Arts programmes, are 17 years old and recent home leavers. Most of the time the parents are more nervous than the students who think it’s going to be a great adventure. So it’s really important we support students during that transition.”
What is the best bit about your job?
Marietta has a holistic approach to her role, describing the favourite part of her job as “interacting with the students during their study. They know me and my sense of humour, we have fun in the lifts going up and down the building. They know they can come to me if they are having any difficulties. They feel comfortable approaching me. I’m not someone who gets them to sign the dotted line and then doesn’t bother with them after that. It’s about the relationship you maintain afterwards. I want students to leave having had a great experience with us, with a good vibe. It’s not just about the teaching, it’s the experience right throughout from the time you first meet them to when you see them graduate. It’s the middle part that’s really important, to keep up communication offering a personal service.”
What are your thoughts on having a “passion”?
From personal experience she describes her daughter who followed her passion “her idea was to play for New Zealand in the women’s football team and go to the Olympics. She had a sign above her bedroom door and looked at it every day and she achieved her goal at the Beijing 2008 Olympics. Now she is living the dream working for Adidas in Russia as the Senior Director of Marketing. She is a pure example of what happens when you follow your passion.”
Marietta meets a lot of parents who are cautious of real-life pressures that require pursuing avenues that are able to provide a decent and comfortable standard of living. They worry about their children following their passion in the creative arts. These are pretty exclusive and specialised career fields, but there are jobs out there that may not be immediately obvious unless you are working in the industry. Just look at all the people involved in making a film, plus there are so many jobs that require creative thinkers, people who are able to think laterally and that’s a big part of what we nurture here.
“I think it’s important for parents to encourage their child’s strengths and passion, let them go, give them a chance to follow their dream and you will be surprised how successful they become if they stick at it.”
She recommends “if school leavers aren’t sure what they want to do, why not try a gap year. Work in different places and test different jobs. You’ll be 1 year richer and more focused on what you really want to do. Look at my daughter - interned at Adidas and never left!”
We have quite a few mature students here who are initially hesitant to study, they ask me ‘Am I too old?’ and I say no one is too old to follow their passion.
As someone who knows a lot about all the programmes on offer, what do you think is unique about studying at Te Auaha?
“I think it’s the facilities and central location. Also when I talk to potential students and their parents I describe the collaboration that happens between the programmes.” For example, this year’s Film School co-production was a collaboration of students from Film, Stage & Screen and Makeup Artistry all applying their skills in a real-life production setting. We also have a close connection with industry with guest lecturers and scouts coming in to see student’s work, and students working backstage for World of WearableArt.
“Students don’t have to go across campuses to different classrooms, that’s one of the disadvantages of the bigger universities, students will need to go to different lecture rooms. Whereas here everything is in the one place and students are interacting with each other in the lifts and communal spaces on a daily basis. I see that happening all the time.”
What advice you would give to school leavers and mature students considering further education?
“To younger soon-to-be school leavers I’d say stay at school to get your NCEA level 2 or 3 even better. While doing that they may want to get a part-time job as well, that gives them the discipline of getting up early and they get a taste of a professional work environment.
We have quite a few mature students here who are initially hesitant to study, they ask me ‘Am I too old?’ and I say no one is too old to follow their passion. Some of our mature students were busy raising young families and are only now finding the time to spend on themselves. Recently I spoke with one of our mature music students and she absolutely loves what she is doing. So much so she has re-enrolled next year. She loves the atmosphere here and says she has felt so encouraged by all her tutors.”
Is Wellington the coolest little capital to study abroad?
“Of course, without a doubt! It has so much to offer, it’s not as big as Auckland obviously. Students from all over New Zealand love knowing they are coming to Wellington. It’s the vibe here, the easy access by train and bus and walks along the waterfront. The campus is really well situated in the creative part of town.”