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Reflections on graduating from the first inaugural Unleash Space CEO

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Today is the day I have been visualising for the last four years when the going got tough (which was most days if I’m honest). Thanks to ol’ mate COVID, graduation wasn’t quite the one I expected, but celebrating homemade-style with my parents and daughter sure was special. With a can-do attitude, some resources from around the house and a touch of creativity, I managed to create a truly epic and unique celebration.

Being a single mother on top of completing a Bachelor of Commerce in four years, whilst working the whole way through has had its fair share of trials. I was fortunate that leading a team through the build and running of Unleash Space, then running my own business coaching start-ups never felt too much like ‘work’ but my goodness it was a challenge. I became the Queen of multitasking and living off 4-5 hours’ sleep a night (not a badge of honour, just the reality). What I’ve come to realise is that knowing my purpose, my why, was key. That why, was my beautiful daughter.

As a young mum, I rarely shared to my uni peers or colleagues what I was juggling, afraid that they would look down on my ability to do a damn great job. It took years fearing the associated stigmas before I opened up. I was so grateful everything I had to offer was so well-received and even became inspirational to others when I eventually began telling people my story (in hindsight I wish I had done so sooner but alas).

The saying “you can’t be what you can’t see” often weighed on me as I eagerly searched for role models that I could truly relate to and be guided by. The closest example of what I had been looking for was watching Jacinda Ardern run office with a baby (vastly differing levels of responsibility, I know); after meeting J.A it kick-started me to reach out to pick the brains of many amazing women, whom I now consider mentors and friends. I hope that I can encourage young mothers to shoot for the stars; and hope they don’t have to search as high and low as I did for an example of someone who went before them… if you know anyone tell her my inbox is open anytime.

I don’t want to pretend by any means that this journey, my successes, the overcoming of gigantic obstacles was done alone or by any means easy. I’ve said before I stand on the shoulders of giants. I am privileged to have a dedicated support system in my parents, family and friends. I have been cheered on by mentors, lecturers, bosses, gym staff, baristas, cheesy motivational quotes, music, and most importantly my daughter (especially on the occasions she came to class with me). 

This degree belongs to me, my daughter, my parents, and to anyone with the dream that education can open doors and empower generational change. I entered the tertiary world of education aged 21 in Feb 2016 starting out on a 6-month foundation course because my high school mathematical ability wasn’t good enough for a BCom. In Feb 2020 I finished having completed all my papers including doing 14 papers in 11 months to finish my degree in record time and with doors opened that I could never have once imagined. I read a quote the other day saying “academia isn’t just for the smart and the talented, it’s for the curious and passionate individuals who aim to make a difference” and I hope that my journey showcases that.

Whilst I was supposed to be jetting off for a wonderful three month trip with my 5-year-old daughter next week after years of sheer grit and saving up, I feel so lucky to be ‘stuck’ in a safe country with her wrapped in my arms. After having to kiss her goodbye too many times to go study and work, lockdown together has been a blessing in disguise. Finally revelling in the foundations that were built for her and because of her.

Arohanui, Wynona

James Hutchinson
James Hutchinson

social media

Today is the day I have been visualising for the last four years when the going got tough (which was most days if I’m honest). Thanks to ol’ mate COVID, graduation wasn’t quite the one I expected, but celebrating homemade-style with my parents and daughter sure was special. With a can-do attitude, some resources from around the house and a touch of creativity, I managed to create a truly epic and unique celebration.

Being a single mother on top of completing a Bachelor of Commerce in four years, whilst working the whole way through has had its fair share of trials. I was fortunate that leading a team through the build and running of Unleash Space, then running my own business coaching start-ups never felt too much like ‘work’ but my goodness it was a challenge. I became the Queen of multitasking and living off 4-5 hours’ sleep a night (not a badge of honour, just the reality). What I’ve come to realise is that knowing my purpose, my why, was key. That why, was my beautiful daughter.

As a young mum, I rarely shared to my uni peers or colleagues what I was juggling, afraid that they would look down on my ability to do a damn great job. It took years fearing the associated stigmas before I opened up. I was so grateful everything I had to offer was so well-received and even became inspirational to others when I eventually began telling people my story (in hindsight I wish I had done so sooner but alas).

The saying “you can’t be what you can’t see” often weighed on me as I eagerly searched for role models that I could truly relate to and be guided by. The closest example of what I had been looking for was watching Jacinda Ardern run office with a baby (vastly differing levels of responsibility, I know); after meeting J.A it kick-started me to reach out to pick the brains of many amazing women, whom I now consider mentors and friends. I hope that I can encourage young mothers to shoot for the stars; and hope they don’t have to search as high and low as I did for an example of someone who went before them… if you know anyone tell her my inbox is open anytime.

I don’t want to pretend by any means that this journey, my successes, the overcoming of gigantic obstacles was done alone or by any means easy. I’ve said before I stand on the shoulders of giants. I am privileged to have a dedicated support system in my parents, family and friends. I have been cheered on by mentors, lecturers, bosses, gym staff, baristas, cheesy motivational quotes, music, and most importantly my daughter (especially on the occasions she came to class with me). 

This degree belongs to me, my daughter, my parents, and to anyone with the dream that education can open doors and empower generational change. I entered the tertiary world of education aged 21 in Feb 2016 starting out on a 6-month foundation course because my high school mathematical ability wasn’t good enough for a BCom. In Feb 2020 I finished having completed all my papers including doing 14 papers in 11 months to finish my degree in record time and with doors opened that I could never have once imagined. I read a quote the other day saying “academia isn’t just for the smart and the talented, it’s for the curious and passionate individuals who aim to make a difference” and I hope that my journey showcases that.

Whilst I was supposed to be jetting off for a wonderful three month trip with my 5-year-old daughter next week after years of sheer grit and saving up, I feel so lucky to be ‘stuck’ in a safe country with her wrapped in my arms. After having to kiss her goodbye too many times to go study and work, lockdown together has been a blessing in disguise. Finally revelling in the foundations that were built for her and because of her.

Arohanui, Wynona


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