Bas­ket­baller catch­ing up on school

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By ROSE CAW­LEY

When Charis Tuitama de­cided to fol­low her pas­sion and play bas­ket­ball in the United States she knew it could spell trou­ble for her ed­u­ca­tion.

But she couldn’t pass up the op­por­tu­nity.

Now the 17-year-old is determined to put in the hard yards off the court and get a ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion.

‘‘I couldn’t say no to the chance to do what I love in the coun­try where bas­ket­ball comes from,’’ she says.

So the Block­house Bay young­ster left home while in year 12 to take up a place at Salmon High School in Idaho. But af­ter a year away, not even an of­fer from a US col­lege was enough to keep her away from New Zealand.

‘‘I’m a home­body, I didn’t want to miss not be­ing here any­more.’’

The de­ci­sion to re­turn home meant she needed to catch up on her ed­u­ca­tion.

‘‘I’d just fin­ished adapt­ing to one very dif­fer­ent way of learn­ing to have to switch back. ‘‘It was a strug­gle. ‘‘I man­aged just enough but not to do what I want.’’

Charis is spend­ing the next six months on a Unitec Bridge­point pro­gramme so she can then begin her stud­ies in ar­chi­tec­ture.

The bridg­ing pro­grammes are de­signed to bring stu­dents up to speed for cer­tifi­cate, di­ploma or de­greelevel study, and get them on track for the ca­reer they want.

On March 9 a group of about 30 Unitec Bridge­point en­gi­neer­ing and art stu­dents worked with a group of stu­dents and pro­fes­sors from the Mas­sachusetts Col­lege of Art and De­sign who are vis­it­ing from the US for a se­mes­ter.

The hands-on work­shop at Mo­tat chal­lenged the stu­dents by giv­ing them limited re­sources and time to build a ma­chine that would take the long­est time to de­liver an ob­ject into a cup.

Mo­tat ed­u­ca­tion co-or­di­na­tor and fa­cil­i­ta­tor Ni­cole Jones says the in­for­mal learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of ‘‘tin­ker­ing’’ is vi­tal to the pro­gramme. ‘‘A key el­e­ment of the mu­seum’s strat­egy is to show­case Kiwi in­ge­nu­ity and tech­nol­ogy to ed­u­cate and in­spire the in­no­va­tors of to­mor­row and that is def­i­nitely what we have ex­pe­ri­enced here to­day.

‘‘It’s been amaz­ing to watch the stu­dents get hands-on and work to­gether to tackle the chal­lenges cre­atively.’’

Photo: ROSE CAW­LEY

Sec­ond chance: Charis Tuitama, 17, is try­ing to make up lost ground with her ed­u­ca­tion af­ter leav­ing to play bas­ket­ball in the United States.

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