Commitment to community causes

27 Jul, 2021
Samirah Ali and Christine McKinnon
Samirah Ali receiving the Beyond AUT Award from CAANZ Careers Engagement Manager Christine McKinnon

Commitment and passion were strong drivers behind the volunteering and leadership activities done by the latest cohort of Employability Award graduates.

Our Award students committed many hours to community services with our four winners supporting causes such as body image, rainbow youth support and religious community support. There is enormous value in the outcomes from these hours for the individuals as well as the communities they serve.

Winner of the EY sponsored Edge Award Leadership prize, Caitlin Baard, worked many hours for Canopy, a start up group pushing for authentic body inclusivity in Australasian fashion and media businesses.  She grew immensely as an individual and a leader, learning how to thrive in the workplace as a neurodivergent woman.

“Now I now feel competent and ready to defy anyone who would see me only for what they think autism is. I have power because I feel employable. I’m becoming okay with being different. You become resilient by being vulnerable. When you are alone your problems become magnified, but people can bear a lot more stress when they work together.”

SEEK sponsored Edge Award Volunteering prize winner Skyler Watt did 174 hours of volunteering, a phenomenal effort. Skyler volunteered as a peer support worker for OUTLine, a national service helping LGBTIQ+ New Zealanders access support and information and find a sense of community.  Volunteering within a charity opened their eyes to how even small interactions can make an impact and bring change.

“Volunteering and leadership experiences helped me develop professional skills and the confidence to move forward. “Overall, participating in the Edge Award has been a positive and valuable experience. It allowed me to engage in meaningful work and pushed me to do things that I would not have been doing normally while studying.”

Planning and managing cultural events for her local Papatoetoe Islamic community opened up CAANZ sponsored Beyond AUT prize winner Samirah Ali’s eyes to the importance of inclusive leadership, as well as developing her skills and confidence. Initially, Samirah found it very intimidating to participate in new events but she persevered, working for nine different charities. Samirah eventually completed 185 hours of volunteer/part-time work and 172 hours of leadership activities as she consistently challenged herself to gain new skills, overcome difficulties and ultimately succeed.

For MYOB sponsored Personal Growth prize winner, Xiaofan Gong, the Award pushed her out of her comfort zone and forced her into a world she’d been avoiding because of her concerns about her English speaking abilities. One of her greatest insights has been the value of praise on others. “I was never encouraged as a child but I now know giving encouragement to others makes a big difference.”

Employability Awards ceremony

Along with the Employability and Careers team, family and friends celebrated the achievements of the students at an Employability Awards ceremony last Thursday night on 22 July.

All up 44 students graduated with Employability Awards for Semester 1, with 33 gaining the AUT Edge Award and 11 gaining the postgraduate Beyond AUT Award. Over the past five and a half years Edge Award students have given 43,620 hours for volunteering, with Beyond AUT students doing 2748 in the last 18 months. Edge Awardees have also done 27,147 leadership hours with Beyond AUT students doing 1786 hours.

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