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Kia ora! It feels like a lifetime since my last blog post, which means you’re well overdue for an update on what’s been happening in my world. February was a massive month that brought some exciting changes for me.

The first major milestone was that I finished uni. After almost six years of studying, I wrapped up my final exam on February 20 and I am now officially a BA/LLB(Hons) graduand! To be honest, it’s a strange feeling. Although I haven’t really felt like a student for a while, I can’t help but think how far I’ve come since walking into the University of Auckland in 2013 as a fresh-faced 18-year-old. It’s bittersweet knowing I’ve spent years learning the system and am now leaving it behind in pursuit of the great unknown.

I’m not going to lie: the last couple of weeks of uni were pretty tough. I think it’s important to mention this because the millennial generation has a tendency to showcase the positives online. Scrolling through sites like Instagram, it’s easy to get a distorted view of success. The truth is that it took a lot of caffeine and a little bit of denial to make it through those final few weeks. There were many times I wished I could fast forward to March. But I persisted and ultimately managed to come out with one A+ and two As, which I’m stoked with. It means I can officially tick off my first goal of the year: finishing my undergraduate degrees with a bang!

The classic grad photo with the University of Auckland sign

Since then, life has steadily gotten brighter. One of the best things about being done with exams is that I have finally had the time to reconnect with New Zealand. Many of my friends are at the stage now where they are heading abroad on their OEs, so I’ve been spending as much time with them as I can. It’s made me realise that all of those brunches, walks and pool days I used to think were little things are actually big things. Every moment suddenly feels special.

A particular highlight of this month was going to a stunt day at Victoria Park. For those who don’t know, I was a competitive cheerleader for eight years and cheerleading is a huge passion of mine. I’ll include a clip below from one of my favourite teams, Top Gun Large Coed, to show you what it’s all about. Anyway, a couple of friends and I started running informal stunt clinics in 2012. We found it was a great way to strengthen the cheerleading community and our weekend hangouts eventually evolved into Auckland Crazy Stunt Club.

We now run free events each summer for cheerleaders to try out new tricks. I had so much fun getting together with the group and playing around at the park. There’s something I love about seeing the shy kids who arrive at the start of the day come out of their shells and leave surrounded by new friends. Plus, putting on my cheer shoes and getting back under a stunt always feels like going home.

The other main standout of February was my trip to Sydney. Sydney is one of my favourite places in the world. I can’t remember the last time I travelled for something that wasn’t work, so it was a luxury to be able to go away without any meetings whatsoever. I mainly caught up with friends and attended the famous Mardi Gras festival.

Visiting one of my favourite spots in Sydney, Bondi Beach

The Mardi Gras parade was hands down the best part of the trip. I love Pride parades because they remind me how much more accepting society has become and it gives me hope for the future. After the Auckland Pride debacle this year, it was wonderful to see inclusivity in Australia. I was particularly moved by the 78’ers. They are a group of activists who risked arrest to participate in the first ever Mardi Gras in 1978. I wondered how they felt in 2019, gazing down at thousands of people covered in glitter, laughing and living freely. It was a truly beautiful night.

Now that I’m back in Auckland, my main priority is readjusting to full-time work. I’m continuing my job as a Special Project Lead for the Alumni Relations team at the University of Auckland, with my focus shifting from our US alumni to a new volunteering project. I’m also in the final stages of setting up another side hustle. Hopefully, I should have some exciting news to share with you soon!

My flight back to New York is booked for late June. In the hours I’m not at work, I’m getting all the groundwork in place for the big move. The uncertainty is equally encouraging and frustrating. All I know is that March will undoubtedly be another transformative month. Until then, I hope you all have a fabulous few weeks and enjoy the last of the sunshine or snow!

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