If you look up the word dedication in the dictionary – there is a good chance that you’ll find a picture of Teresa Whale next to it.
A typical day for her begins at 3am when she starts her job working as a baker. After work she arrives at Wintec by 6.30am to get some extra study time in, where she recently completed the Certificate in Fitness Industry Training and is now studying towards a Bachelor of Sports Science.
She likes the early starts at Wintec, which help her get some extra study time in before she starts class.
When she’s not studying or working, she’s at the gym doing CrossFit; and with whatever time she has left in a day, she enjoys spending it quietly “chilling out” with friends or napping, she says.
The former Mercury Bay Area School student was originally brought up on a farm in the small town of Raetihi, where she would help her father with milking the cows. So she’s no stranger to early mornings and hard work. “Being a morning person I try to use that time as wisely as possible, so that I can't be distracted,” she says.
While she admits living away from home and juggling all of her study, work, and work placements, is no easy task; she faces the challenges that come her way with tenacity and a positive attitude.
After being orphaned at an early age and learning to cope with depression, her grandparents have played an important role in her life. “They are my rock and I know I wouldn't be the person I am today if it wasn't for them.”
It was her grandmother who told her to pursue her passion for fitness and move to Hamilton.
“She normally is the one to give me a nudge when I need it,” Teresa says. “I miss my grandparents heaps but I also feel like it has given me the opportunity to become so much more independent.”
She’s found that making new friends; flatting; and developing a support network of friends, family and even her lecturers, have helped her get through the tough times.
For now Teresa is focused on completing this part of her personal journey and is enjoying everything that she is learning because it’s what she is passionate about.
Her aspirations are to become a fulltime CrossFit coach with a long term aim to develop classes for clients within the disabled community. Growing up with a sister who has Down syndrome Teresa measures success by her ability to achieve this goal and it is a passion project that is close to her heart. “I feel like there is a whole community out there who unknowingly get overlooked.”
“With my sister I can understand and see the huge potential she has, and it's just waiting to be unlocked.”
Her advice to others who are considering tertiary education is to do it for the right reasons, and to seek out help when times get hard.
“Don't be afraid to take the plunge to drive for your dreams. So long as you’re driven, organised and enthusiastic the only thing holding you back, honestly, is yourself.”