A Whangarei woman who has taught English to a hill tribe in Thailand and a "mature student" with life experience under her belt were among the diverse range of teachers who graduated last week.
Tessa Edwards and Debbie Lockett were two of 32 students from the University of Auckland's Tai Tokerau campus who graduated with education-related qualifications on Friday.
Ms Edwards, a Bachelor of Education graduate, was inspired to become a teacher in her childhood, particularly by her teacher Mr Fenton at Raumanga Primary School.
"I remember him as a larger than life character who strummed the guitar every day and created a fire in me for writing and computers.
"When I was young I wanted to become Mr Fenton - he was the coolest person I knew."
But before she decided to study she wanted to explore the world. Ms Edwards worked for several years in Australia and England in administration and after working as a volunteer teaching English at a high school to a hill tribe of Thailand, she decided to return home to study.
"It's been awesome to study at home. Knowing you have mum, dad and aunties around you has been so great and they have been really supportive," she added.
Ms Edwards now teaches Year 6 and 8 at Tangiteroria School and said she loves the rural environment.
Ms Lockett, who is also a Bachelor of Education graduate, is a "mature student" who has had a number of careers in her life - none of which she has loved as much as teaching.
"Knowing children are excited to come back to school and they're excited to learn is great," she said.
Ms Lockett teaches Year 7 and 8 at Kamo Intermediate School.
"As a mature student, I have life experience to offer my students - I have travelled, married, had children of my own, and now I can honestly say that I am ready to be the best classroom teacher I can be," she added.
The graduates gathered at Laurie Hall Park before marching through Whangarei to Forum North where the graduation ceremony was held.
- Photographer Michael Cunningham went along to capture the proud graduates.