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Youth Ambassador Jamie Laws

Jamie Laws

Ngāti Awa, Ngāpuhi

Bachelor of Education, Graduate

Among those in the first group of Awanuiārangi youth ambassadors was Bachelor of Education graduate Jamie Laws. She recalls a lot of fun, a great group of people and the feeling that “we were on show”.

“At that time there were so many of us young students who had just left school and so they asked if we were interested in the idea of youth ambassadors – we were the pilot programme.”

As a youth ambassador, Jamie joined senior staff at conferences and other big events. “We saw a little of what was going on at that level, so it was a good learning experience. We performed waiata and haka ... we were aware that we were on show.”

Other responsibilities included attending orientation events and open days and explaining to prospective students just what Awanuiārangi had to offer, as well as helping out on graduation day.

Giving a voice to the students was an important part of the role, with Jamie and her colleagues providing feedback to staff and administrators.

“We gave the Wānanga a perspective on what the younger students needed in terms of support, and what would stimulate them in terms of study elements.”

Jamie graduated in May 2012 with a Bachelor of Education degree. It was an especially emotional occasion for the daughter of Awanuiārangi Associate Professor Mark Laws, who died in December 2010.

“My father had sort of pushed me into doing a degree ... to be honest, he saw the bigger picture long before I did.

 “When I went up to receive my graduation certificate, I carried a photo of him. I know how proud he would have been that I made it.”

Jamie is now in her first year as a teacher, working in Palmerston North. “It’s full-on, but wonderful. I have my own class of 26 children and, while it’s daunting to be responsible for their learning, I’m passionate about teaching kids and helping them.

“The job is exciting. It is so rewarding when you see that moment in a child’s face when something clicks and they get it.”