University of Waikato lecturer achieves life-long dream

Press Release – Waikato University

University of Waikato lecturer Maria Kecskemeti’s advice to others is that it is never too late to follow your passion. Ms Kecskemeti recently fulfilled a life-long dream and was appointed as a lecturer. She now works at the Faculty of Education. …6 October 2011

University of Waikato lecturer achieves life-long dream

University of Waikato lecturer Maria Kecskemeti’s advice to others is that it is never too late to follow your passion.

Ms Kecskemeti recently fulfilled a life-long dream and was appointed as a lecturer. She now works at the Faculty of Education. She graduates this month with a PhD and has an enthusiasm for research sparked from years working in the education sector, seeing problems with relationships within the school system.

While she admits higher degree study is not everyone’s cup of tea, Ms Kecskemeti says finishing her doctorate is a five-year journey she is glad she pursued. Ms Kecskemeti, originally arrived in New Zealand in 1990 from Hungary, and later juggled her studies around full-time work as a school counsellor, being a single-mum and a live-in grandmother.

“I am interested in how we value education and view the role of teachers in society,” she says.

Ms Kecskemeti is particularly interested in helping students, teachers, and senior managers establish positive relationships with each other. For her doctorate she explored the place of restorative practices in the classroom. Her preventative approach involves understanding how ideas and talk that disrupt the learning environment might be deconstructed.

“Changing gear at the end of the day after the demands of school to focus on writing was challenging, but it was worth it. It was a great achievement and allowed me to look at my practice differently.”

Before working at Waikato University, Ms Kecskemeti completed her Masters of Counselling through Waikato, and spent many years in New Zealand schools teaching and counselling. She has also been a Resource Teacher of Learning and Behaviour (RTLB). She says her knowledge and experience of counselling and teaching are complementary and provide her with a unique perspective that she can draw upon in her research.

She is now excited about her future, where she will continue researching restorative practices and relationship practices for inclusive communities. She teaches papers in professional education, inclusive education and motivation and behaviour.

On October 20 Ms Kecskemeti joins other Faculty of Education graduates at a 10am ceremony at Hamilton’s Founders Theatre. More than 500 University of Waikato students graduate this October at ceremonies held on October 19-20.

ENDS

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