Yesterday, around 200 Aucklanders and their families got the best Christmas present ever – a stepping stone to a brighter future.
The Solomon Group end of year graduation ceremony celebrated the milestones of numerous students who had worked so hard to better the lives of themselves and their children. Around 450 supporters turned up to cheer on loved ones, who took to the stage to receive qualifications across a range of Solomon Group, Aspire2 Trades and NZ Welding School programmes.
Guest speaker and Whanau Ara Mua (WAM) student rep Elizabeth Fifita shared her personal journey to success.
“As a single mother of eight it has been hard. I was working but then got made redundant, so I decided to take a year off to study and upskill myself. I discovered Solomon Group, enrolled for WAM, and it changed my life,” said Elizabeth.
“It has changed my perspective and the way I teach my children, and it has built my self-confidence. Without doing WAM I wouldn’t have the confidence to stand up here and share my story with you all. This course has opened doors for my future. I’ve been offered a role as assistant student support coordinator for Aspire2 Trades – and that goes to show that anything is possible.”
Top welding student and graduate Insure Fatai has been snapped up as an assistant tutor at the NZ Welding School and inspired the crowd with a moving speech.
“This is a journey that can only be completed through hard work, diligence and determination,” said the dedicated father of five.
“The first day I started my Level 3 welding course I felt like quitting. I didn’t speak much English, didn’t know anybody, and being back in a school environment made me feel weird. But when I got home from my course that day and was greeted by my wife’s smiling face, and my kids eager to find out how my day at school was, my heart melted. That day I made a promise to myself – to study hard and listen to my teacher so I can give my family a better future.
“Today is an important day in all of our lives and it is the start of a new journey for us all. I encourage you to continue with your hard work and be the best you can be. If I can do it, you can do it too.”
The graduation ceremony was a proud occasion for staff, graduating students and families. For many, it was the first time they had ever graduated from a programme or received a qualification, and as Solomon Group CEO Lynette Donohoe pointed out, it was a moment to savour.
“Congratulations to you all. It is no mean feat to achieve what you have,” she said.
“To our WAM ladies, you have juggled families, cars, weather, school, sickness and holidays to be able to successfully complete your year-long course. And to our Trades graduates, so much work has gone into your studies and it is awesome that you are all here today. It is an absolute privilege to be leading the Solomon Group and Aspire2 Trades – it is days like this that make me so proud to be here. So, keep going with your efforts, it doesn’t stop here!”
Congratulations to all our latest graduates, and a big shout out to those of you received special awards. Well done!
Special awards went to the following students:
Bonnie Te Wake
Karen Peleti Toomalatai