Tauranga student Shirralee Hohaia has won the University of Waikato Alumni Association Prize for Excellence as the top first-year student in the Faculty of Education for 2012.
She is studying for a Bachelor of Teaching (Primary) at the University's Tauranga campus.
"My initial response to winning the award was that hard work does pay off," said the mother of four. "I feel honoured that I can be an example of that to my family and friends, and hopefully inspire them."
"My passion lies with teaching juniors and I would love my first position at a school to be in that age-group. My aspirations are to eventually become a lecturer, so further studies feature somewhere in my future."