Steps to success: Polynesian law student grateful for career support

For Compass Housing Services

A Samoan, Māori university student studying first-year law is extremely grateful for the support she has received from Compass Housing Service’s Grow a Star, mentoring and scholarship programme.

One of nine siblings, Luisa Tauri-Tei is the first of her family to pursue tertiary study. A former head girl at Alfriston College, Luisa was nominated by her teachers to be a Grow a Star recipient.

Impressed by her strong leadership skills and desire to pursue a career in the justice system, Luisa was approached by Compass Housing Services General Manager Bernadette Pinnell to be the first beneficiary of the programme, something Luisa has described as a lifesaver during her first year Law and Arts degree at Victoria University.

Grow a Star is a youth mentoring and scholarship programme run by charity Compass Housing Services that helps young people from disadvantaged backgrounds overcome financial or generational obstacles to follow their academic, sporting or cultural aspirations.

In support of Luisa’s career ambitions, Grow a Star has provided her with a laptop and continue to offer ongoing mentoring support. Bernadette is also a resident in the capital city and has assisted Luisa with the shift from Auckland to Wellington.

 “Moving away from home was hard and there are so many challenges that come with change,” she says. “The help given by Bernadette makes Welington feel like a home away from home and she’s always there to help.”

While a long way from her family, Luisa says studying at Victoria University was important because they offer widely recognised programmes.

“I’ve always been passionate about racial and economic injustice and thought to do law and pacific studies hand-in-hand,” she says. “While the conjoint is a real challenge it’s definitely worth working towards a career about what is important to me.”

Luisa is proud to be following her dreams and says it’s important for promising youth to be supported by individual streams that are practical and active with recipients.

“What’s great about Grow a Star is that the programme supports all career paths and not just education,” she says. “The process to receive support is also simple for hard-working individuals looking to live out their sports, performance or other career goals.”

Raised by her grandmother, Luisa says her family is a major inspiration for her career choices and wants to encourage future recipients to have a why and purpose behind their visions.

“While my beautiful grandmother has passed away, it’s the faith that I’ve inherited from her and my church that keeps me motivated with my studies,” she says. “When things get hard it’s that big ‘why’ in your vision that needs to be louder than your doubts.”

Bernadette says that Luisa has been a successful pioneer and promise of things to come from Grow a Star in New Zealand.  

“The programme is about building the ‘capable self’ and improving self-esteem of passionate youth that need an extra boost,” Bernadette says. “We’re proud to be supporting Luisa through her first year of tertiary study and look forward to doing this with a wider network of youth.”

Compass Housing Services is actively looking to introduce Grow a Star in West Auckland next year and is committed to building its relationship and connections with the Glen Eden community. In conjunction with Grow a Star, Compass have an active role in Glen Eden providing Community Housing options in the new Manson Foundation Westlight Apartment complex, currently under construction.

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