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The reassurance and support received from NMIT tutors, Pauline Carson and Marion Heinz, was a breath of fresh air for Carl.
"I came in to see Marion [at the beginning of the year] and we did a test and she decided that I needed a more extensive test. It was found out that I have slight dyslexia and also slight problems with my memory."
Carl was born in Takaka and has lived most of his life in Brightwater. He didn't fit into the mainstream at school. Instead he was sidelined, as Carl puts it, to the ‘substream’.
"I've always had learning difficulties right through. I was in reading recovery in primary school. At secondary school, I noticed that I was in the lowest of the lowest classes and we weren't learning the same curriculum as the mainstream kids. We were learning very basic Maths that we should have been learning in primary school, as well as English."
The differences before and after diagnosis have been profound for Carl.
"Without Marion's support and the learning support through Colleen Plank, I don't think I'd have been able to get to this point.
"One thing I can get now is reader/writer help for when there's a test. They're there, right beside me, they read the questions, and write the answers."
The support has been an enormous relief for Carl, especially where spelling is involved.
"On the spectrum mine is quite low. My dyslexia is just spelling and sometimes reading a word not quite right here or seeing a couple of extra words where there's meant to be only one."
In addition to reader/writer help, Carl received two hours learning support per week. Support workers help with everything, especially the basics like spelling - aspects that take the pressure off students like Carl.
Prior to his diagnosis, Carl managed to complete the Certificate in Vineyard Practice at NMIT via distance learning, and even though this former vineyard worker of eight years had working knowledge of the industry, the learning experience was a real struggle. Naturally, he was apprehensive about studying something new.
"It was challenging, very challenging at the start of the year. I was seriously considering dropping [out] but over the next few days and months it started to click and I'm glad, now, that I stayed."
Carl had always been interested in computers, loves tinkering and felt it was time to transition from the vineyards to the world of IT. The Certificate in IT Service and Support was a perfect fit for Carl.
"We got to pull computers apart, install operating systems, install server operating systems and created Domain controllers then joined member servers to the Domain."
Each practical came with a written assessment, research component and the odd presentation which challenged Carl to the extreme.
"It was extremely nerve-wracking for me. I thought about backing down and not doing it but I just pushed myself to stand up in front of class and present.
"I wanted to give up many times," he adds. "Just recently I had to get a massive report in, something like 22 pages. I just about gave up but I got there, sent it in and got a great mark, 94 per cent. I was so stoked!
"It frustrates me when I see these guys that are quite intellectual and they just muck around and get average to poor grades you know when I'm busting my boiler every night to get the job done, but that also shows in my grades."
Carl is graduating this year as one of the top students in a class of eighteen with 90% and is considering returning to NMIT in 2017 to complete the Diploma in Information Technology Technical Support.
"My main piece of advice to others who may struggle with study is don't give up. Get the support you need ...just get it and persevere."