New kaitakawaenga Shelton Healey (second from left) may come from a whānau of educators, but his pathway into education has been an interesting journey featuring a representative sporting career and work as a musician before he found his way to community work and finally education.
A Francis Douglas Memorial College old boy, Shelton’s early gift for sport saw him represent New Zealand in the junior Softball World Series and play in Australia and the US.
“If I had my time over I may have given more time to getting a qualification, as I had nothing to fall back on, and no obvious career path,” he says.
He didn’t let that stand in his way and instead used his love of music to start the next phase in his life. He mastered the saxophone (search for Soulovus on YouTube to hear his mahi) and worked as a DJ while figuring out how to serve his local community of Waitara.
“I volunteered my time and joined boards and trusts and set up programmes and events in Waitara.”
This experience and mahi gave him the confidence to follow people’s suggestions to apply for a role at Work and Income as a case manager where he was able to help more people in his community.
“I spend four and a half years at Work and Income helping clients with everyday life and supporting them into work but wondered what’s next?”
He remembered the mahi of former WITT kaimahi, the late BJ Hetet, and thought he had a cool role, and was curious about what it took to work with rangatahi supporting their education and career paths.
As a member of the kaitakawaenga team, Shelton is based in the kaupapa Māori space on the New Plymouth campus where ākonga enjoy whakawhanaungatanga and can access a range of cultural and pastoral support services to encourage and tautoko all Māori and Pasifika students to achieve their study goals.
“It is nice to know you can make a difference in people’s lives and influence someone’s career path,” he says.
“Our door is open to support all ākonga,” says Shelton, whose friendly, welcoming nature is well-suited to his new role. His confidence behind a microphone and DJ skills are also appreciated at ākonga events.
The kaitakawaenga team are also the people to see for help with StudyLink, scholarships and help to make iwi/Whakapapa connections.