21 March 2024

Life’s challenges spur Southland students’ Mexico business trip

Two Invercargill students selected to attend a business programme in Mexico say overcoming life’s challenges pushed them to apply for the opportunity.

Maddix Pettigrew and Kobi Harpur will be part of a team of eight students from New Zealand travelling on a ten-day, all-expenses-paid Young Enterprise Scheme business trip to Mexico in April.

Pettigrew, a student at Southland Boys’ High School, discovered he had a cancerous brain tumour when he was 3 years old and said living with the illness had made him realise he could go for anything he wanted to.

Pettigrew said he went to the hospital as a 3-year-old child after his eye started going inwards at a birthday party.

An MRI showed he had a tumour in his brain, he said.

“Then I had chemotherapy for 18 months and it [the tumour] was dormant after that,” he said.

Ever since that first diagnosis, Pettigrew said he had been on and off chemotherapy while experiencing growing anxiety.

“It made me realise how precious life is,” he said.

By the time he was 12 years old, he had jumped out of a plane in Wanaka and played rugby in a team, Pettigrew said.

“If I see something that I really want, I just go for it,” the 17-year-old said.

He had to put rugby on hold after he dislocated his shoulder a couple of years ago, he said, so he joined an 11-a-side football team.

And when he saw the opportunity to go to Mexico as part of the Young Enterprise Scheme, he jumped on it.

As part part of his application he had to send a 90-second video where he showed his interest in the Mexican culture and the business opportunities there, he said.

“I’m nervous, I am excited, I don’t know how to explain it really – it’s an opportunity that opens up so many things,” Pettigrew said.

With a similar enthusiasm for life, Harpur, a Southland Girls’ High School student, said she saw the programme as an opportunity to expand her small business selling wellbeing journals.

A few years ago she was diagnosed with a mental health disorder, she said.

“I was stuck in a dark rut that I could not get out of,” the 17-year-old said.

So she started writing positive thoughts on a personal journal.

After a Young Enterprise Scheme course she transformed this experience into a passion, she said, as she wanted to help young people remove the negative stigma around mental health.

At first it was hard to share her story, Harpur said, but then she overcame her challenges.

Her Ginger Bear Journals were made for New Zealand high school students doing the NCEA, she said, but the trip to Mexico could help her learn how to transform it into a worldwide business.

Harpur and Pettigrew are scheduled to depart for Mexico on April 12 and return on April 22.

Source: stuff.co.nz – 21 March 2024

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