Workbridge, Where abilities equal employment

Hard work, dedication and the support of Workbridge enabled Jess Hawkes to achieve her dreams.

Jess finds it easier to learn by drawing or doing, rather than reading and writing. She says she always looks for solutions rather than barriers, and her learning disability hasn’t held her back from studying at universities in Canada and Sweden as well as at Lincoln University.

But when Jess began studying for a postgraduate degree in agricultural economics at Massey University, she discovered she’d be required to visit farms to interview farmers.

“People talked a lot faster than I could write, especially when standing in the wind and rain on the side of a hill,” says Jess.

“I am very visual and, having studied overseas, I know we farm very differently in New Zealand. I thought it would be cool to capture images to show how we do things here, while capturing accurate information for my reports.

Making magic happen

As a student, Jess couldn’t afford a good camera, so she decided to apply to Workbridge for Training Support funding.

Workbridge operates three Ministry of Social Development support funds to assist people with disabilities to participate in employment: Training Support, Job Support and Self Start.

“I’m sure someone at Workbridge must have thought it was a weird request, this crazy farm girl applying for Training Support funds for a GoPro,” Jess says.

Not only did Jess gain an A grade for her thesis, but her camera experience helped her gain a job as a learning and technology specialist at Victoria University.

“Often it’s these innovative opportunities that make magic happen. Having unique tools can provide a fresh perspective,” says Jess.

“With Workbridge’s help, alongside hard work and dedication, I completed my thesis and landed my dream job. I still use the GoPro in my work all the time."

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