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“The limit of what I thought I was capable of only ever existed because I let it exist”

Peony Smith-Tahere says it’s important to let failure guide you, to show up for yourself and keep pushing boundaries.

In the second of Wintec’s four graduation ceremonies, students from Wintec’s Centres for Business and Enterprise, Information Technology, Sport Science and Human Performance, and Design Factory NZ took to the stage celebrate their graduations. Chosen to be the voice of her peers at this ceremony was Peony Smith-Tahere, who was graduating with a Bachelor of Applied Information Technology.

When Peony got the call asking her to be student speaker, she said “the lady on the phone said, ‘your journey might inspire someone,’ so I got the courage and said yes”.

She said it was important to take this moment to reflect on the journey that brought the graduates together to celebrate.

Peony believed everyone should be proud of themselves for all the growth each person had been through and all the hard work they put in along the way.

“Each one of us at some point decided to set a goal and whether that goal was a certificate, diploma, bachelor’s or master’s degree, we have all achieved that goal today.”

Peony said she never thought she would be the girl graduating with an IT degree, or the girl who would receive a scholarship or the girl who would be asked to speak at graduation.

Peony acknowledged that for the graduates at the ceremony, their new journeys into the work force or further study had already begun, but the ceremony and the day itself was a huge milestone for all of them.

Peony wondered how many of the graduates had faced the same challenges, regardless of their chosen field.

“The challenges of self-doubt. The moments of intrusive thoughts and the uncertainty of what our futures held for us, especially through the Covid lockdowns and isolation. You never know all the challenges, adversities, loss of loved ones, or internal battles somebody else is going through while still showing up, so always be kind and never forget the impact you can have.

She then shared three lessons she had learned during her time at Wintec.

“Lesson one, failure is only failure if you let it be. This is something I had to come to terms with early on in my journey. I was entering an unknown world and completely out of my depth, I had my doubts and I used to fear failure. I had to learn to not let failure not be failure but turn it into a lesson. I learned to let those lessons guide me.

“Lesson two, show up for yourself. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. This is something that my partner would remind me of in my tough days and it would be on repeat in my mind when I was debugging a piece of code or learning a new programming language or having to present an assignment in front of the class. 

“Lesson three, keep pushing your boundaries beyond what you think you are capable of. The limit of what I thought I was capable of only ever existed because I let it exist. I used to look straight over the IT subjects because my mentality was ‘that’s too hard for me’. But then I challenged myself, I wanted to prove that I could do hard things too. I wanted to prove that I was capable of studying and working in a male dominated industry. And now, I can confidently say I can do hard things too.”

Read more about our 2024 graduation ceremonies here.

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