Dr Sheena Hudson: a life of education and travel
Dr Sheena Hudson: a life of education and travel
Alumna Dr Sheena Hudson, who passed away in March 2017, left a gift in her will to establish a scholarship to assist students studying part-time for a PhD in social sciences or geography. A passionate student and traveller, Sheena wanted to support other part-time students since education had played such a significant part in her life and led to stimulating changes of career.
Her support for part-time study reflects the experience of the University’s very first students, who often climbed the hill to Kelburn to study after a day’s work in the city. Sheena once said that between the ages of five and sixty-one there was rarely a time that she wasn’t studying for some certificate, degree, or diploma.
“I have always been a strong advocate of the power and benefits of education and believe in the importance of helping students achieve their potential,” said Dr Hudson. “Leaving a gift to the University to establish a scholarship for a part-time postgraduate student helps me to actively fulfil this belief.”
David Kim, the 2022 recipient of the Dr Sheena Hudson PhD Scholarship, reflects on the huge difference the award has made to his ability to pursue his PhD. “The scholarship was pivotal as it provided the financial support which allowed me to reduce my work hours so I could spend an extra full day on my research. This was a gamechanger, and a huge encouragement that motivated me to continue pursuing my academic passion and to grow as a young academic.”
Sheena’s initial plans to study languages at university in her native Scotland were derailed when she failed Higher Latin. Although she had passed Higher History that didn’t seem to count; reluctant to go to teacher’s college, she and a friend instead went to Domestic Science College as they rather liked the purple blazer. While she found this a bit of a disaster as she was not cut out for cooking, cleaning, and sewing, she stuck it out for four years of study and eight more of teaching it. The qualification, which is regarded in New Zealand as a Bachelor of Science (Applied), proved useful for finding work in different places.
Memories of a ‘Warbaby’
Sheena enjoyed working on her PhD for almost six years and then experienced “writing withdrawal symptoms”. She began a personal history entitled Warbaby, which she self-published. The title relates to her discovery that there are far fewer of her generation born into war than the later ‘baby boomers.’ Her clear memories were enhanced by the weekly letters she had sent to her mother in Scotland ever since she left home.
Sheena was born in December 1943 while her home city of Glasgow was still being bombed and there was strict rationing. As a baby she spent many nights in the air-raid shelter in the middle of their street, while her father was serving in the Royal Navy. He often told stories of medical and R&R leave in Sydney and Queensland and had a yearning to emigrate to Australia, which may have attracted Sheena’s interest.
As a young person she enjoyed the outdoors, hiking and climbing in the hills around Scotland. When she was 15, she had a revealing holiday in the USA staying with her uncle and aunt. She went water skiing, sailing, and stayed in a hotel—all things she had never done before. She felt a new world of possibility opening up for a rewarding way of life without children.
Travels in Australia, New Zealand, Africa and more
After marrying husband Stuart, Sheena was keen for adventure, and they were both able to get teaching jobs in the western suburbs of Sydney and in a country town in New South Wales. At this time, they visited New Zealand staying in youth hostels and mountain huts, and hitchhiking around the country, even holding short teaching jobs in Manapouri.
They had joined the NZ Alpine Club and found a welcoming group of friendly local climbers in Christchurch. On their advice they sent food drops to various towns in the Southern Alps, and then traversed the mountains from Manapouri to Queenstown.
On returning to Australia, Sheena and Stuart planned to travel overland back to Scotland—’Perth to Perth’. They drove across the Nullabor Plain in a 1961 Morris Minor then continued via ship, plane, bus, train, ferry, and hitch hiking, including taking a bus to Kabul over the Khyber Pass. Back in Scotland Sheena completed a Bachelor of Arts as one of the first graduates of the Open University. She loved studying sociology, psychology, politics, geology, geography, and education. Meanwhile Stuart completed his ascent of all the ‘Munros’—Scottish mountains over 3,000 feet high.
Their next trip was from London to Nairobi in a Land Rover across the Sahara and Central Africa with six others. After vehicle issues and illness, she was quite glad to see the back of the Land Rover but spent time in Africa, including climbing Kilimanjaro.
Teaching in Taumarunui, more travels, and more study
While travelling they had met many New Zealanders, and emigrated to New Zealand in 1974. Teaching roles in Taumarunui on a three-year bond stretched to 17 years. They built a house there and during the long school holidays travelled all over New Zealand and the world: tramping, skiing, and sailing. Viewing Antarctica on one of the sightseeing flights was not enough for Sheena and she did a four-month stint as a general hand at Scott Base for the summer season in 1984–85.
Working with students who had reading and behavioural problems motivated Sheena to studying counselling through Massey University, which led to a Master of Arts (Applied) in social work at Victoria University of Wellington.
After commuting between Taumarunui and Wellington while flatting on the Terrace, Sheena finally made the move to Wellington. She worked at the Central Institute of Technology while Stuart found a new career teaching and examining English for Speakers of Other Languages
After many hours of study and practice Sheena completed her Transactional Analysis clinical exam to obtain a Post Graduate Diploma of Psychotherapy and become a member of NZAP and NZAC. She also completed a Certificate in Alcohol and Drug Studies.
Portfolio work while completing a PhD
A fascination with her work as a selection adviser at Volunteer Service Abroad led Sheena to begin a part-time PhD thesis through Massey University (Auckland) on the motivation, experiences, and perceived career effects of volunteering overseas.
Sheena was interested in the idea of ‘portfolio work’, dividing her time into five areas: paid work, voluntary work, family work, house/maintenance work, and leisure. While she studied part-time her other jobs included co-ordinator of the volunteer counsellors at the Wellington People’s Centre, a therapist at the Refugees as Survivors Centre, a tutor in counselling for Stotts Correspondence Courses, secretary for the New Zealand Association of Counsellors Ethics Committee, a marriage celebrant, and a counsellor and psychotherapist in private practice.
Sheena’s thesis led to a love of research, and in researching volunteers’ careers she discovered a new career for herself. After completing her PhD, Sheena became a researcher in Public Health at Otago University Wellington.
A life well-lived with many achievements
As Sheena looked back on her life, she had no regrets. She could see themes running through her life: the importance of education, study, and hard work, of travel, challenges, and independence.
“Most of my dreams of travel and study have been achieved; I have chosen to study what I liked and have had various careers and travelled all over the world. I have learned to ski, to sail, and to ride, and I have gone dog sledding in Canada and the USA with my own dog team; I have owned and ridden a motorcycle, and lived and worked in Antarctica.
“I have designed and implemented a bachelor’s degree in counselling and managed a department of 25 people. I have been involved with people needing help in prisons, hospitals, and in the community, and volunteered with Volunteer Service Abroad. I have published a considerable number of papers and self-published two books.”
Dr Sheena Hudson achieved her goal of a university education and took advantage of every opportunity to try out new experiences and career directions. Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington is grateful that the money she gifted to the University will continue to provide opportunities for part-time postgraduate students to achieve their dreams well into the future.
Source information: Warbaby, Dr Sheena Hudson
Image: Dr Sheena Hudson