Prime Minister's Award for Equine student
Manawatu student Ebony Parker-Murrell became one of the first students in the country to benefit from the Prime Minister’s Vocational Awards which recognise excellence in vocational education.
Ebony, an 18-year-old who has just graduated from Longburn Adventist College, has spent the past three years undertaking equine studies through Gateways and her achievement saw her awarded $2000 prizemoney.
While she had a passion for horses, Ebony was not in a position to own her own horse so was eager to take on Equine studies when her Gateways teacher Cathy Mancer mentioned it was a possibility.
The only student following the equine pathway Ebony amassed over 70 credits at Level 2 and 3 over the past three years and said it was the sheer pleasure of learning about a subject which interested her which drove her.
“I wasn’t as concerned about the credits, only about what I had learned from each book and what I could relay on to others,” Ebony said. “While I was learning I was putting the concepts into practice, which helped solidify the knowledge that I acquired.”
The course was a mix of book and practical lessons, with the practical being completed at Kamada Park and Kyrewood Equestrian Centre and Ebony is thankful she was able to develop her love of horses further.
“I had no specific goal that I wanted to reach while learning equine studies, other than to gain as much knowledge as I possibly could to educate myself so I am prepared for when I can own my own horse and further my opportunities in this field,” she said.
“I enjoyed being my own teacher and learning the value of time management, and I would recommend vocational pathways to anyone who has a passion for something that can’t be offered at school.”
NZTR Training Advisor for Central Districts, Bridget Flynn, also acknowledged Ebony’s commitment to her studies.
“This award rewards Ebony’s dedication and enthusiasm. She is very deserving of the recognition which will further enhance her opportunities to pursue a career in the equine and racing industries. I would encourage any young person with a passion for horses to consider the Gateway equine studies programme.”
“I was shocked and excited that the vocational pathway was being acknowledged, and I was in disbelief that it was awarded to me,” Ebony said. “I plan on saving the money for the future and investing it in my future career.”
What that future might be, Ebony is not sure at the moment saying she does not have a specific plan.
“However, I do wish to explore the equine field further,” she said.