Rugby star addresses fellow graduates

Learner Stories
26 October 2022

Vania Wolfgramm says she gained more than she ever anticipated during her Capable NZ journey.

Vania is an ex-Black Fern, a Sky Sports Commentator, and a Game Development Manager for women’s rugby at New Zealand Rugby.

She delivered the student address on behalf of Capable NZ graduates at our Graduation ceremony last week, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Management.

Vania said she’s proud to be a New Zealand-born Samoan. Her parents migrated here in the 1970s for opportunities for their family.

She’s the eldest of her siblings which comes with many expectations and responsibilities.

“Growing up in a strict Samoan family, my upbringing came with many ‘no’s.”

Her parents loved their children and that was their way of protecting them, she said.

Her parents had initially thought there was no pathway for her in sport. However, she’d now worked in women’s rugby for more than 10 years.

She’d faced many ‘no’s during that time, having gone headfirst into a male-dominated sport. That was part of the reason she pursued her studies.

“Little did I know that I would gain and receive much more than I ever anticipated from this journey of learning with Capable New Zealand and Otago Polytechnic and the College of Work Based Learning.”

The programme enabled her to hone skills and expertise that were already culturally ingrained but not necessarily understood or seen.

“It has provided me the opportunity to reflect on lived experiences, which culturally, our people have known for thousands of years but only recently have been written about.”

Vania said she’s been able to apply some practices instantly to her work.

“I hope this programme continues to grow and develop students and athletes the way it has grown and developed me and my family.”

She thanked her facilitators, and family and congratulated her fellow graduates.

“Continue to be great. Continue to be the voice for those who are unheard. Continue to be the light for those who feel like they are unseen. Embrace the ‘no’s and find another way to find your ‘yes’s.”