Drive to get ahead in tech sector keeps Cambridge mum going

Wintec IT student Sarah Lee says retraining has kept her going despite a challenging year
Wintec student Sarah Lee says her drive to retrain in IT has given her motivation to keep going. 

For Cambridge mother Sarah Lee, retraining for a career in Information Technology (IT) has kept her going, despite a particularly challenging year.  

Lee, who juggles part-time study with a full-time job as a disabled support worker is also a round-the-clock mum.  

Not only does she have her own three children to take care of, she also has a full-time homestay student, who she calls an “adopted son”, who has been living with the family for over two years. 

Although Lee had considered tertiary study previously, it wasn’t until this year that she took the plunge and enrolled in Wintec’s New Zealand Certificate in Computing Level 3 to retrain for a career in IT.  

“I had zero experience in IT but it seemed like a smart choice.” 

Lee saw the opportunity as a pathway to provide stability for her children and greater job security for the future, as it would move her on to enrol in the New Zealand Diploma in Information Technical Support Level 5, which she is now studying. 

“This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time but I got a bit caught up doing life things – I dropped out of school early and had children at 17. I always knew that I wanted to do something more professional.  

“My youngest is two, so I thought it was an ideal time to finally pursue my studies. All going well, I’ll be done by the time she’s at school.” 

Only weeks after she enrolled in the certificate, Covid-19 hit New Zealand and along with students across Aotearoa, Lee had to continue her studies from home.  

During this period she faced formidable obstacles that made concentrating on her studies more difficult than usual. 

“It was just crazy. In my job as a support worker, I’m often caring for people who don’t have anybody to assist them. Many of them are immuno-compromised and weren’t able to leave their residences.  

I was cooking for them and delivering them groceries, on top of doing this for my family at home. The whole lockdown felt a bit traumatising, but there was no time to freak out!” 

In addition to her extremely busy home and work-life, one of her children suffered an injury and was hospitalised during the lockdown, which caused further stress and strain to her studies.  

Instead of letting these challenges overwhelm her though, Lee was determined to succeed throughout this period and has come out on the other side. 

Throughout it all she says her tutor Jaculin (Jaci) Petherick was one of her biggest supporters. 

“Jaci was a very integral part of my study and was just amazing. There's so much support at Wintec.” 

According to Petherick, the respect is mutual, and she can’t speak highly enough of Lee. 

“I have a lot of admiration for Sarah. It was such a pleasure having her as my student. She shows such strong drive and passion for the subject, and she will no doubt achieve great success in whatever path she chooses.  

“She’s a very dedicated student and full-time working and motherhood did not stop her motivation to achieve further knowledge during the lockdown.” 

With one semester nearly down and another yet to go, Lee undoubtedly has a big journey ahead.  

Rather than put her off, in classic Lee style, it’s just made her all the more motivated to succeed. 

“I just want to complete it. I’ve got that drive. At the moment it feels like I’m making a sacrifice by taking that time away from my family and I have to make that worth it, to do it justice.”