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Source: Eastern Institute of Technology – Tairāwhiti

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Nirvana Kendrick faced major challenges but never gave up.

Following a tough childhood and a challenging youth, EIT graduate Nirvana Kendrick (Ngāti Kahungunu) has defied the odds and succeeded in everything she wanted to achieve.

“I grew up in poverty with four sisters and two brothers,” Nirvana says. “In my last year of high school I fell pregnant but managed to finish the year before I had my daughter, Ayvah-Lee. I had previously secured a student hostel in Wellington and was ready to kick off a counselling degree. For quite some time I was in denial and thought I could still go and study. But eventually I had to accept that it was not going to happen.”

Instead, Nirvana and her partner Charlton Manaena, who has been at her side ever since, moved to Waihi to live with Charlton’s mother. “She was a tremendous help. I secured a job in a childcare centre and started to study Early Childhood Education but soon felt that I struggled to allocate time for study and my daughter.”

The family moved back to Hawke’s Bay where Nirvana started a job at the meat works in Hastings. “It was good but I didn’t want to be stuck in the same place for the rest of my life. I also wanted to set an example for my children and build a better life for them. So in 2016 I started my Business Studies degree at EIT.” It was another remarkable year: Nirvana’s son Fabian, now four years old, was born and Charlton graduated with an electrical engineering qualification from EIT and started his career as electrician.

It goes without saying that the last four years haven’t been all sunshine and rainbows. “Balancing family life, work and studies was certainly a roller coaster ride. But I enjoyed my studies and becoming a tutor assistant pushed my confidence in terms of public speaking.”

The passing of her grandmother last year was a major setback but also gave her the energy to keep going. “I had to get this degree also for her.”

Nirvana graduated with top marks and very clear career plans. “I secured a job as an assistant accountant at Ovation New Zealand and was recently promoted to management accountant. It keeps me busy, but I enjoy dealing with numbers and analysing data. I always liked numbers and the fact that maths is the same everywhere you go in the world.” Nirvana is now studying to become a certified public accountant (CPA) and was awarded the CPA Māori Scholarship.

“We are also looking at buying our first house, so I feel like after years of hardship finally everything is falling into place.”