Hannah decided to pursue a Bachelor of Social Work with Open Polytechnic following her own journey through the state care system during her childhood.
Coming from the coal face of Aotearoa's social services provided many barriers and systematic disadvantages for Hannah; most prominently she was not able to complete her last year of school as it was unaffordable for someone fresh out of foster care that was self-reliant on their own single income. Hannah was declined entry to university some years after based on this, which limited her ability to pursue the career she was fiercely passionate about. However, Hannah’s resilience paired with Open Polytechnic's accessibility and willingness to recognise her value has granted her the opportunity to study and open doors. She is now able to engage with youth in her own community; which helps her to develop the necessary skills and confidence to do this in a professional and skilful manner.
The Open Polytechnic has provided Hannah with the flexibility to study while she works full time supporting children, youth and families with intellectual disabilities; volunteers with the SPCA; provides whangai care for children; and manages the roofing company she shares with her husband.
Hannah’s future ambitions include starting her own organisation that supports youth in foster care to develop the skills they need to become independent, know their community and reach their own life goals.
Hannah decided to join the student advisory group to represent youth, young professionals and the people living in rural communities, such as Taranaki. Her aim is to ensure that services are made available, affordable and user friendly to all. Because of her Bachelor of Social Work experience, Hannah has been empowered with good critical thinking skills, empathy and the ability to contribute in a way that promotes social justice for the students and staff of Open Polytechnic.