24 countries in six years

24 countries in six years

AshanaJohnson TeHuia
NMIT Travel and Tourism student Ashana Johnson-TeHuia knows who she is and what she wants. She has never let anything pull her away from achieving her goals, including her most enduring goal, which is to experience 24 countries by the time she is 24 years old.

It’s a goal she will achieve - one that has already begun. The 18-year-old has already visited Australia and has set her sights on Europe next. “It’s been on my bucket list for years.”

The highly independent West Coaster began saving for this goal and future studies at 15 years of age. For three years, Ashana worked part time while still at school and managed to save six thousand dollars. She was also awarded two scholarships at this time - the JJ Mulligan Scholarship and the Reefton Domain Board Scholarship - both available through Reefton Area School.

Ashana’s savings, combined with scholarship funding support, was enough to pay her NMIT tuition fees outright. You heard it - Ashana has no student loan.

To help matters more, Ashana moved in with her father (who is based in Nelson) and has lived rent-free for most of the year. Even though she qualified for a student allowance, the future-focused achiever chose not to receive it.

Instead, by the time Ashana arrived to NMIT to begin the one-year Level 4 programme, she had a part-time job lined up with Speights Ale House as a waitress. She says it’s been ‘really big’ doing split shifts, working six days per week, but so far she has managed to juggle her studies around work.

Here’s the real clincher. Ashana was born with a congenital heart defect. She has undergone two open heart surgeries, and chest infections are not uncommon. If you’re wondering where her discipline and determination comes from, look no further.

She credits her family for their support and guidance, especially her Mum. “My parents have been a massive support. They haven’t stopped me doing anything. Mum always made sure I was at school all the time, made sure my grades were up to scratch and she just drove me to the path I wanted to go down.”

And that path? “I want to work either with air hostessing or in the tourism management side of things.”

Ashana will graduate from NMIT in December with a Certificate in Travel and Tourism (Level 4). The journey has been mostly plain sailing with a couple of hurdles to jump. 

“I’ve had a few hiccups this year. I’ve been back to hospital a few times which has been a pain. But I’ve managed to seek the help and treatment I’ve needed. Obviously I’ve achieved one of my goals which was to graduate this year, which I’m well on the way to graduating.”

Where to next for Ashana? “What I’m thinking is working for a whole year and then going back to study a bit more to have more qualifications under my belt.”

Whichever qualification Ashana aims for next, NMIT is her chosen study destination.

“I absolutely love NMIT. It is very different from high school. You have more freedom at NMIT and your tutors are not always breathing down your neck. And it’s a good place to be independent.”

Learning how to use the reservation booking system, Amadeus, has been a highlight for Ashana this year, as well as classroom outings. She has experienced sea kayaking and river rafting, and has been to Blenheim to check out the mussel farms as part of a classroom field trip - all experiences she enjoyed and values dearly.

“It [the tourism industry] is very different to what we were told and learnt at school. Hearing first-hand from people in the industry made all the difference.”

Many said it was a hard industry due to the hours and demands, but Ashana is passionate about travel and tourism and is not about to change course - she has a goal, remember.

Twenty-four countries to see. One in the bag. Six years to see the remaining 23. “It’s a massive goal, but I’m willing to take it on. I’m willing to take on anything.”

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