Jessica Simpson

Jessica has been a member of Whai Rawa almost since it started and her recently completed study was the first time she had really considered making use of the account. “I didn’t want to apply to take it out - I was saving it up; I thought ‘I’ll pay for it first, then provide receipts when I complete it’. But it is crazy how expensive the postgraduate study courses can get!

Jessica Simpson (Kati Mamoe, Ngāi Tahu) has travelled the world with the military, worked for the United Nations and now works in the high-power mining industry in Australia.

Each position has combined and grown her skills to move forward in her current area of expertise – occupational health and safety – and on into emergency planning and crisis management. It’s not an easy sector to break into, but her newly attained qualification, paid for with her Whai Rawa funds, is giving her the best possible shot.

Jess, 35, lives in Darwin with her partner and is currently working as an Occupational Health and Safety advisor in the mining industry. A paramedic by trade, she worked as a medic in the New Zealand Army straight after high school. The role saw her gain 10 years of experience at home and abroad on peacekeeping and humanitarian aid deployments to East Timor, the Solomon Islands, Tonga and Afghanistan.

Although those close to her were surprised with her career choice, what with Jess being “something of a lady”, she says the opportunity was accessible for her.

“It sounds silly now, but at the time I didn’t think I was bright enough to go to university. I thought you had to be really intellectual and I didn’t believe I was.”

Despite that youthful doubt, she has just completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Emergency Management with Auckland. And after studying para-medicine in the army and taking on her Postgraduate Certificate, Jess can comfortably say that university is more about hard work than it is about natural ability.

She has been a member of Whai Rawa almost since it started and her recently completed study was the first time she had really considered making use of the account.

“I didn’t want to apply to take it out – I was saving it up; I thought ‘I’ll pay for it first, then provide receipts when I complete it’. But it is crazy how expensive the postgraduate study courses can get!

“That was in 2014. Although I had a super scheme from the army, I had invested that in a house already.

Determined not to draw debt, Jess paid for the study herself and then was reimbursed by Whai Rawa with her savings.

“I couldn’t believe how easy it was. I was expecting the process to be a lot longer. I think it’s because I had all of my paperwork on hand so it was pretty clear cut, but it couldn’t have been better.

Jess was proud to fly back home in December 2016 for an extended Christmas break that included her graduation. She’s not quite home for good, but with a new qualification under her belt, Jess has more options to explore and widen her career path.

“Australia is brilliant for opportunities and everything, but I want to come home for my family.”