Larissa Turns A Love of Forestry Into A Health & Safety Career

11 Feb 2016

“I left school at 16, not knowing what I wanted to do, says Larissa Alofa.

“Sometimes being older helps you decide and prepare yourself mentally for studying. I started studying at Waiariki when I was 22, which was the best decision I ever made.”

Prior to enrolling at Waiariki Institute of Technology upon the Diploma in Forestry Operations, Larissa had enjoyed three years working in the forestry industry – however she soon realised qualifications were the key to unlocking the various career paths she saw around her.

“My mother was the one who pushed me to keep going even when I didn’t feel like going to class or finishing my assignments’” admits Larissa, also acknowledging her husband for financially supporting her through her study. “I couldn’t have done it without their support.”

Learning about silviculture, logging, logistics, planning and more, Larissa’s goals of becoming a forest consultant took a new turn as she decided to apply for a job as a Health and Safety Coordinator at a local forestry company in her last year of study.

“I had minimum experience within health and safety, but as I had good grades, attendance and references from the supportive tutors at Waiariki, the company held the job open for me.

“I was so happy that as soon as I graduated I had a job where I could starting learning straight away.”

Realising that health and safety was the sector she wanted to stay and grow within, Larissa undertook a Diploma in Forest Management followed by a Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety with Waiariki, which she then turned into a diploma with Southern Institute of Technology - all while balancing part-time study with a full-time job.

“If I had not studied at Waiariki, I would have never had the exposure or qualifications to get to where I am today,” she states, now employed as a Health and Safety Business Partner for Taupo District Council.

“No matter what age you are, if you are passionate and determined then my advice would be to get the qualifications you need to succeed in life.

“Don’t underestimate how much you can learn and how many opportunities can come your way if you stay focused.

“Anything is possible, it just depends on how badly you want it.”

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Page last updated: 02 May 2017