Expectant mum and EIT valedictorian Bianca Snee has no idea which to expect first – the birth of her baby or her graduation with a Bachelor of Recreation and Sport.

With the baby due this week, Bianca is covering her bets.

EIT has filmed her delivering the speech she has written on behalf of her fellow students and that will screen if she goes into labour. She is determined, however, to speak at the graduation ceremony if the baby doesn't arrive on the day.

After many years working in the banking sector, Bianca sees gaining her degree as her "next step".


"Life has made a path for me now," she says.

Born in Hastings, she attended Sacred Heart College and then moved to Taradale High School to be closer to Greendale Swim Club where she trained, swimming 16km a day.

A division-one swimmer, she qualified in breaststroke, freestyle, butterfly, backstroke and medley to compete in the nationals.

She was achieving her best speeds when she broke her leg playing rugby, ending her swimming career.

Looking back, she says it was probably the right time for transitioning to another sport – she was tired of travelling to swim meets around the country.

A natural athlete, Bianca joined the Waimarama Surf Life Saving Club and made the Hawke's Bay team.

After leaving school she worked a summer for Camp America, teaching youngsters to swim and water ski and then travelled in several states in the US.

After a variety of jobs, Bianca moved into the banking industry and worked her way up the ranks.

She was in a senior role, based in Australia, when she had an epiphany.

"I was over the banking sector by then," she recalls, "and was looking for something different. I wanted a career that was more about giving rather than making money.

"I took a mental-health day and it was then that I decided I was going back to study."

Applying to EIT from Australia, she handed in her resignation but started degree study with some concerns.

"I was a crap student at school and I was worried about how old I would be as a student at EIT, but I was so determined to try."

She needn't have worried.

Head of School, Health and Sport Science Kirsten Westwood says Bianca tackled every assessment with passion and gusto and also encouraged her fellow students to "have a go" with class activities.

Bianca had trained as a bikram yoga instructor and in her first year at EIT she also qualified to teach power vinyasa.

She coupled her 3½ years of study with teaching yoga, Pilates and personal training in various studios and in her private studio at the back of the Onekawa home she shares with partner Rick Persson.

"It was stressful," she admits. "With rent and bills to pay and working as well as studying, it was a juggling act."

Now, as she looks to graduation and continues to build her client base, she feels she is exactly where she needs to be and that everything has fallen into place.