After a somewhat disjointed 2020 experience, Ara Timaru graduates were finally able to celebrate their success in a more
familiar style on Tuesday April 27th.
Sixty-nine graduates who completed their study at the end of last year including students from the Trades, Enterprise & Digital Innovation, Humanities and Creative Departments joined their whānau, friends and other supporters at the
Southern Trust Events centre. The ceremonies included a traditional academic parade, the wearing of academic regalia,
formal welcome and speeches from Ara CE Tony Gray as well as Ara Board Chair Thèrése Arseneau, and of course the
presentation of the long-awaited certificates.
Nursing graduate and student speaker Jessica Kerr was part of the first cohort of Bachelor of Nursing graduates from
Ara’s Timaru campus. She gave a profoundly heartwarming speech, during which she demonstrated her gratitude for the
efforts of her tutors. "A special mention and heartfelt thank you must go to two tutors who were with us from the
beginning - Gail Foster and Liz Godwin. You were both unrelenting in your support, knowledge and encouragement. Your
doors were always open and you championed and advocated for us from the very first day."
Fondly-acknowledged tutor Liz was in a position to uniquely appreciate Jessica’s sentiments, as she herself was
graduating with a Masters’ in Health Practice, as well as a Certificate in Adult Education. Liz said that while her
plans don’t include starting her Ph.D for now, and that she wants to continue "teaching all of our lovely nursing
students", she does see the value of teaching staff demonstrating an appetite for life-long learning. "We need to ‘walk
the walk’ and I think the students were proud of us, as we are of them."
In regards to her study experience in general, Jessica said "The small class sizes (at Ara) were fantastic for people
like me who prefer to learn in that kind of environment, just to get so much support and one-on-one time . And I think
it's awesome how we don't have to go anywhere; we don't have to go to the big cities, as I can study and then work in
the community that I live in."
Jessica and the other 14 Bachelor of Nursing graduates have all gained jobs in their chosen profession, an enviable 100%
success rate. Ara Timaru’s Senior Lecturer - Nursing Gail Foster says these employment figures serve as a powerful
reminder that the appeal and relevance of nursing careers remain extremely high, with opportunities expanding in New
Zealand and further afield.
"Nursing is vital to the safe provision of health care and there are many opportunities for nurses today to extend their
skills and knowledge to progress their careers. We work closely with our clinical partners, recognising and responding
to the need for nursing education programmes that reflect our communities and their healthcare needs" she says.
Other Ara staff members who had a special connection with this year’s ceremonies included Leonie Rasmussen, Manager of
the Ara Timaru campus. "It’s a personal highlight for me that my sister-in-law graduated today with a Level Four cookery
qualification. I was really pleased to be able to see her through the journey and celebrate that; my niece and nephew
were here, so we got some really fun family photos!"
Leonie also commented that she was very proud of the success of her colleagues Liz Godwin and Jo Fraser, who both
received their post-graduate qualifications on the day.