Working with children and doing office work in the health sector on her OE were the driving forces behind an EIT valedictorian.
Katherine Corney will address EIT's graduation ceremony tomorrow when she is capped with her Bachelor of Nursing.
The William Colenso College ex-student embarked on her OE after high school and ended up working in a delivery suite in south London and the Great Ormond Street Hospital's mental health unit.
"Part of my job was looking after the kids in the ward, writing all the reports and attending all the meetings," she said.
"Learning so much from the two years working in the hospital, I wanted to pursue nursing and be in the hands-on part of the hospital."
On her return to New Zealand, she enrolled in EIT's Bachelor of Nursing. She enjoyed working with and getting to know her fellow students and said many were unknowingly inspirational - mothers raising children, those who had lost loved ones and others who had fought illness while holding fast to their life-goals.
Ms Corney now works at Wairoa Hospital where she completed placements for the Hawke's Bay District Health Board on the Nurse Entry to Practice programme. With two emergency department beds, two acute beds and 11 general beds, she said the hospital provided her with rich learning opportunities.
"All illnesses and injuries can come in, so I'm getting an excellent base of knowledge for my nursing career. I'll also be working with the district nurses one day a week as part of the new integrated healthcare system being developed in Wairoa. "I like the people here, the community and the staff."
Jennifer Roberts, assistant head of EIT's Nursing School, said Ms Corney was an outstanding academic achiever who welcomed every opportunity to learn and interact with clients and health professionals on her practicum.
"I have little doubt she will contribute to the Wairoa community in a lasting and positive way," she said. Ms Corney wants to continue nursing studies to gain her Master's degree and to work one day as a nurse practitioner, perhaps in a nurse-led community clinic.
She would love to travel again, too, this time as a nurse, but sees herself working in New Zealand. In the meantime, she is welcoming the chances Wairoa offers for indulging her love of the outdoors, particularly kayaking and tramping. Ms Corney will be supported by her family when she speaks at tomorrow's ceremony at Napier's Municipal Theatre.