(Left): Annie Sutton, who is in the final stages of her Bachelor of Business Studies at EIT, is working as a finance assistant at Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga. (Right) Annie Sutton (left) with Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga Contracts & Business Development Specialist Amy Martin.
When Annie Sutton (Ngāti Kahungunu) became pregnant as a teenager, little did she realise that 14 years later she would be on the verge of earning her Bachelor of Business Studies through EIT’s School of Business.
Not only that but three more children later, a stable relationship and a good job, Annie’s future prospects are looking good.
It is hard work that got her to this point, but she says it was a tough road to travel.
She left school and enrolled at the Teenage Parent Unit at William Colenso College, where she was able to finish her NCEA Level 1 and 2. Her daughter, Aquila, was born in 2008 and life improved for Annie after that as she met her partner, Sahn Whiunui, and had three more children, Cherish, Tia and Pashion. She was enjoying life as a stay-at-home mother, but she always felt she wanted to study further.
“I had the kids, but felt I needed more. I just wanted to do something for myself to provide for my family.”
After looking at options at EIT, in 2017 she enrolled in the free, NZ Certificate in Business (Administration and Technology) [Level 3] programme at the Hawke’s Bay Campus in Taradale.
“I just felt like it was something I could be good at. I was quite nervous because I was 27 and had not had a proper job.”
Annie’s nerves turned out to be misplaced as she finished the programme that year. Buoyed by her success and responding to marketing by EIT, she enrolled in the free NZ Certificate in Business (Accounting Support Services) [Level 4].
“This made me find my passion for accounting. Maths was one subject that I was always good at, but it was never something I ever thought of as a career when I was at school.”
Once she had completed that, Annie was hesitant to tackle the Bachelor of Business Studies degree, because of the three-year commitment, so instead enrolled in the NZ Diploma in Business (Accounting). However, she enjoyed it so much that she decided to carry on and get her degree.
“I was surprised at my marks and how I was juggling four kids at home.”
Annie’s juggling skills had to get even better earlier this year when, with half a year left in her degree, she was offered a finance assistant role at Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga in Hastings.
“It was a difficult decision because I really wanted to finish my degree, but I had never had a job before so did not want to give up an opportunity. So, I negotiated with my manager here to let me carry on studying part-time, going to a class once a week during work hours to complete my papers.”
“Now I only have one paper to go and then I will be able to graduate next year,” says Annie.
She is also loving her job and says she has “great support” from the organisation, which is a Māori focused organisation and has a whānau environment.
Looking back on how she got to where she is, Annie credits the support of family and EIT lecturers, but also believes she needed courage and determination to succeed.
Her advice for young girls in a similar situation is simple: “Go for it!”