June, 24 2017
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Teenager Turns Life Around, Earns Scholarship
As a one-time out of control teenage tearaway, Manukau Institute of Technology Social Services student Charlotte Charlotte is well-placed to work with troubled youth today. Last week, Charlotte received the Dale Family Scholarship in Youth Work / Community Development to help her on her path towards further study.
“As a teenager I spent some time on the streets and tried to be affiliated with gangs, due to problems I was having at home,” says Charlotte, who was one of 11 children.
“The turning point in my life was looking after my little brothers when my mother passed away 17 years ago. This was difficult with no mother or father figure to use as a role model. But today my brothers are all grown up and doing quite well for themselves!”
Not only has Charlotte helped her brothers achieve a positive outcome, but she has challenged herself along her journey towards helping others. Having worked in factories, been a carpet layer and a council gardener, among other jobs, Charlotte realised that interacting with people was her true calling.
“Working with people always stood out for me. While I had contributed to social work from a practical perspective, I realised it was time for me to develop academically to enhance my future in social services.”
What the Scholarship Means
Charlotte believes that the scholarship will ensure she is better able to pursue these academic goals and says, “When I first heard I received the scholarship I was over the moon and felt blessed with such recognition. This has given me an incentive to achieve and apply for further grants. If you don’t give it a go, you would never know!”
Charlotte says the scholarship reflects her future goals and existing values – giving back to Manukau City and the Pacific Island community.
“My interest has always been with behaviour; specifically looking at how people change when something changes in their environment. I want to work with Pacific Island people on how to manage rebellious behaviours with their children. I am very passionate about this issue; it’s a long journey but one worth the travel.
“Completing the Certificate in Social Services (Level 4) has given me a better idea about myself and my past and it has prepared me to look at issues from a different perspective. It has also definitely shown the need for Pacific Island behaviour services, especially with the youth issues currently in the media.”
Charlotte's Current Work & Future Plans
Charlotte is working for Auckland City Mission in partnership with Auckland City Council as a street contact worker with the Homeless team, and is working voluntarily for the New Zealand Prostitute Collective in promoting safe sex. She is also developing a program for Pacific Island students in tertiary education.
But Charlotte isn’t stopping there. She has a “five year plan” in place and aims to complete her MIT Bachelor of Social Work degree along with a business course through Pacific Business Trust. With the support of her good friends, Lagi Perese and Annah Pickering, Charlotte is confident she will achieve her goals.
“I have had a lot of support from these people and have also realised that for most of us to be in this field you have to have a great sense of humour. But I guess that is part of the Pacific Island DNA!”
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