Taylor Hill’s direction in life unexpectedly changed when she injured her knee on January 11th 2016. Prior to her injury she was a self-confessed workaholic, often holding down 2-3 jobs at a time because, as she said “I love working hard”. New Zealand-born Taylor grew up in Australia and returned as a 13 year old to settle in her home town of Bluff. She left school at 15, taking on some of the toughest physical jobs around, often the youngest in the team, and in male-dominated professions.
She began her working life at an oyster factory, a role she held for nine seasons, and for 3-4 seasons was the youngest opener, as well as one of only three females on the bench at Ngai Tahu Seafood.
During the off-season, Taylor worked in a wide range of jobs for a variety of companies, including Fonterra, Downer, NZ couriers, Devil Burger, Alliance, SPM, The Warehouse, QFS and more.
It was after a move to Christchurch to gain full-time work, when she had settled into her usual routine of holding down 2 jobs, her knee injury occurred. Taylor said within 25 days she made the move back to Invercargill and although at the time it felt like going backwards, she knew it was the right thing to do.
Taylor decided to study at SIT as the Zero Fees Scheme and cheaper rent in Invercargill was appealing, besides that, she was back home.
“I didn’t know what to study, I had left school so young”, she said.
She looked at many things, but Social Services was attractive as it was about people, and she said, “in reality, about myself”. Taylor said she knew people as she had worked in many places with many different types of people. She took the first step and started her study journey; when Taylor received her first mark back, an A- for an Ethics paper, she hadn’t even known what Ethics was, until she started the course. From that point on, Taylor thought to herself “Wow, I can do this ‘education thing’”. She passed the year’s study, and said it challenged her from start to finish.
In 2017 Taylor changed direction and enrolled in a Bachelor of Commerce with a double major in Management and Marketing. It was an obvious choice to continue studying at SIT as she loved everything about it, she found the support was awesome from the moment she walked through the doors to reception: the process, the campus layout is easy to navigate, it just worked for her. She said “I loved the Blackboard set-up which made study easier at home, so their systems were a life saver. I utilised the nurse and counsellor at stages throughout my time at SIT which was also very helpful”.
During her degree Taylor has continued with her strong work ethic, taking on roles that suit her positive, can-do attitude. After her first year, she gained a role at Whanau Ora as a Navigator. For two and a half years Taylor said she learnt so much from those she worked with at Whanau Ora, “It was awesome”, she said. “I loved my role and the results I would see were very motivating, my role was to work with whanau around their dreams and aspirations, allowing and encouraging them to think about what they would want to do everyday when they woke up, and get them to believe it was possible”.
Taylor said as adults we put up barriers. “If I asked a young child what they want to do when they are older they will let you know something extravagant. As adults we say, “oh no I don’t have the time, money, smarts” or whatever the barriers, we create them. I would get them back to that child-like space, then make small steps and set goals that focus on how we get there”.
The brain stimulation is a huge part of why Taylor loves the student life, “always being challenged and stepping out of your comfort zone, the growth in confidence is beyond words”. She said the feeling of success is also very warming and rewarding. “My highlight is definitely all the knowledge I’ve gained from so much learning”.
She gives special mention to the tutors, heaping praise on their ability to encourage and motivate.
“I’ve enjoyed my tutors, they challenge me and they articulate their programme very well. It is always a way in which it’s possible to learn without being easy, you are still very much required to study. They are always very supportive, and that on its own is comforting when you are trying to pass papers”.
“I was very grateful to have learnt off the amazing Merle Petersen” (SIT’s Social Services Programme Manager). She remarked SIT Business tutor Robyn Valentine was someone who’d always “had my back” throughout her study journey. Taylor said she appreciated the way Ms Valentine made time available for her, responding to her queries. Her door was always open.
“They make it ok to be unsure” she said.
Among the long list of positive experiences while studying at SIT, Taylor found the Zero Fees Scheme a huge help. She said without it she would’ve accumulated a far larger debt and is very grateful for how it’s assisted her financially, making her situation “not too painful”. The security of being able to do the groceries without checking the bank account is another incentive for Taylor as she develops a career in motivating others.
Taylor ascribes to the belief that we are all capable of doing anything we set our minds to. She knows her future is always going to involve people, motivating them and building their confidence. This optimistic attitude has her constantly reaching for the stars when it comes to ticking things off her bucket list.
“ I would love to be the founder of a few companies I have in mind. The ultimate would be to gain my doctorate in something around people, their behaviours, perceptions and motivators. I am interested in sexology, psychology and sociology”.
Taylor loves the quote, ‘If a fish was judged by its ability to climb a tree it would spend its whole life believing it was dumb’. She said “It’s so fitting, because we all have strengths and challenges - it’s about finding out what they are, utilising your strengths and managing your challenges. Believe you can, and you are already halfway there. Anyone can do what I have, they just may need a knee injury as motivation like I did”.