Why my mum could not attend my University graduation in Hawaii

“There was a lot of emotions going through my head”.

Irene Tawa is the first person in her whānau to graduate from university and managed to do it abroad, at Brigham Young University in Hawai’i. 

The Māori graduate recently finished her degree in Pacific studies and has been working at the Polynesian Cultural Center - or PCC - to stay connected to her culture. 

The PCC plays an important role for BYU students like Irene, helping provide work and a sense of cultural connection.

For Irene, that connection was especially important as her mother passed away before she could graduate. 

In this episode of Ohinga, Irene describes how she didn’t think university was on the cards for her but how taking chances has created a whole new path, not only for her but also her whānau. 

Although she lives thousands of kilometres away from home now, she says that studying and seeing the world has been the best thing for her. 

“Know that there more bigger and brighter things in the world”.

This is part of our reo Māori series, Ohinga, created by Mahi Tahi Media, with funding from Te Māngai Pāho. Stay tuned for a new episode every week.

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