Studying at ATC Military Prep was the ‘saving grace’ for Pai. Pai had a difficult upbringing, being separated from her family after her father’s death at 12 she went through many foster homes but would continuously run away.
“I didn’t feel like I belonged. I felt like no one wanted me or I wasn’t good enough, so I became that troubled mischief kid”
Pai got caught up in the wrong crowd and eventually got placed in juvenile detention. She left determined to start a new chapter in her life and was inspired by her family’s historical involvement with the army.
“I had just got out and was bailed in the community and I was thinking about how my family were in WWII and in the Māori Battalion. So, I started at ATC”
Pai initially had no expectations attending ATC and only wanted to get her qualifications, but she did not realise she would gain so much more. Pai felt and instant sense of belonging with the genuine care and support the staff and students had for each other.
“It’s like comfortable family, everyone knows each other, everyone’s got each other’s back, it’s real and honest. The staff welcomed me with open arms, they didn’t judge me and were really supporting. I felt really appreciated because they trusted me. I felt like an instant sense of belonging and then ATC became my family.”
An instance of the support that Pai received was when the staff realised that Pai was deaf. ATC organised funding for hearing aids which made Pai more confident with interacting and communicating with others.
“I got to improve my communication and interactions with class peers and team peers. I made a lot of friends and I leant so many life skills. I absorbed so much knowledge, I took it all in and I still share it around”
After a lot of hard work Pai was able to gain her level 2 qualification in Vocational Pathways Social and Community Services and decided to continue studying with our Security level 3 programme. Pai graduated Security level 3 with an internship at City Rail and has since been offered a full-time job at Downer.
“I have so much pride now. I got to learn the haka and it means a lot. I earnt my uniform and to me that’s pride right there. I was that shy person who didn’t want to interact with anyone, because I felt that once people knew who I was they wouldn’t want to give me a shot, and now I wear my heart on my sleeve”
Pai is confident that she has skills, knowledge, and support to achieve whatever goals she might have. She visits the campus often and is a strong advocate for showing other troubled teens they can achieve their goals too. Through ATC Pai found direction and purpose. She is proud to have broken the cycle that she had grown up surrounded by and is excited about what the future holds.
Pai’s advice to anyone thinking of joining ATC is,
“Always rely on your training and have pride and respect for yourself and others and just believe and have faith in yourself.”
For more about ATC Military Prep, chat to our whānau.