Inspirational young people the heart of University life

Partway through his Bachelor of Laws, Stephen Jones realised he wanted to make a difference, rather than just making a living.

Stephen and Amie Jones

He had initially returned to Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington about 30 years after completing a Bachelor of Commerce and Administration, to pursue a desire to deepen his understanding of law.

Stephen will graduate with a Bachelor of Laws during the December graduation. He is honoured to be asked to speak at his graduation, though he does admit he thought, “Why me? Where did this come from? The young people are the life of the place and make the place what it is.”

Stephen worked as a Chartered Accountant for the decades between his periods of study, and says, “For years I regretted not studying a bit more broadly than just aiming for the meal ticket, an accounting degree. I did a Graduate Certificate in Law in the early 2000s, but that wasn’t enough to satisfy the itch. A combination of health and restructuring gave me the opportunity I had been waiting for.”

His daughter Amie graduated with a Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood) in May this year and Stephen says he couldn’t have achieved what he has without her. “As well as being my primary carer outside University, she has got me to and from campus, to and from classes, and assisted me with whatever else has been required.”

He adds, “I just want to thank the young people I studied with for the honour and privilege I’ve had in being among them for the last five or so years.

“They are a vibrant, amazing, inspirational group of people. The world will be in good hands with them in charge.”

He would also recommend they take the chance to study later in life if it arises. “It is mentally invigorating and challenges you to re-evaluate what you think you know and your values.”

He hopes to be admitted to the role of barrister and solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand in the first half of next year, and says, “I am interested in the criminal justice area, primarily in relation to young people. I want to use the knowledge and experience I have to make a positive difference.”