Adult learners recognised at annual Wintec awards

A highlight on the Wintec calendar this week was the annual Adult Learner Awards, where six adult students with the drive to succeed in their chosen learning journeys were recognised.

The winners all come from a diverse range of backgrounds and study an array of different subjects including sport and exercise science, counselling, foundation studies and English language. One thing they do have in common is they are all over 25 years old and have chosen to enter tertiary study at a later part in their lives.

Recipients of this year’s awards are David Keighley (Bachelor of Counselling), Sauliloa (Loa) Suka (New Zealand Certificate of English Language) who both received the Adult Learner Awards.

Gurinder (Garry) Sandhu (New Zealand Certificate of English Language) received the Foundation Adult Learner Award and the International Adult Learner Award was won by Lili Dai (Postgraduate Diploma in Sport and Exercise Science).

The two Māori and Pasifika Adult Learner Awards were given to Simone Kokaua (Postgraduate Diploma in Sport and Exercise Science) and Lian Smith (Bachelor of Counselling).

The winners were to be announced and presented with their awards at a special ceremony this week at Wintec but due to Covid-19 Alert Level restrictions, the ceremony was cancelled. Winners were notified by personal Zoom calls, and will have an opportunity to celebrate with their classmates and tutors when they return to campus.

Wintec Executive Dean, Shelley Wilson, acknowledges the commitment and effort the winners of the awards, and all who were nominated, have put into their studies despite exceptional circumstances in many instances.

“With the desire to return to learning and through perseverance, dedication and commitment, our adult learners often achieve well beyond their own expectations,” says Wilson.

“All of our adult learners come from a diverse array of experiences and backgrounds, but they have all come to Wintec to make an investment in their futures. This often comes with sacrifices including balancing study and home life, work commitments and other challenges that life throws their way. It’s often not an easy road, and we think it’s important to acknowledge this,” she adds.

Although there are challenges that some adult learners may face, Wilson also believes that many students who enter study later in life are clearer about the direction they want to head, and they bring a wealth of life experience to their studies that can aid them in setting achievable goals and outcomes.

“Study requires many different skills and having prior experience in the workforce, in different industries and having a level of maturity that comes with age are great tools for succeeding at tertiary level study,” she says.

“If extra support is needed for our adult learners, we offer workshops, pastoral care including kaiāwhina support, and specific support for international students as well.”

Wilson also mentions that it’s been particularly challenging as of late, due to the added stress and obstacles that studying remotely under lockdown has presented.

“It’s been challenging for many of our learners, and the resilience and strength of our students has shone through. We continue to be amazed at the tenacity of our learners and we’re really proud of their achievements and attitude throughout this difficult period,” she says.

To be nominated for an Adult Learner Award, students must be over 25 years old, enrolled in a full or part-time programme at Wintec, and balance roles and responsibilities associated with being an adult learner.

Nominees should demonstrate enthusiasm, determination, show support and encouragement to other learners, share new skills, knowledge and abilities, and challenge themselves and others with new ideas.

Wintec’s Adult Learner Awards are part of The Festival of Adult Learning, Ahurei Ākonga a UNESCO initiative supported by the Tertiary Education Commission, adult and community education providers, and the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO.