"It's so very emotional and just extremely humbling."
Candice Milner discovered her calling in a rather roundabout sort of way. It wasn't until after she’d worked in hospitality, volunteered as a fire fighter and breastfeeding peer supporter and explored careers as a musician, youth worker, teacher aide and children’s music teacher that she decided to become a midwife.
“Through all of these journeys, I had to navigate life as a young woman and the inherent challenges this comes with,” the 23-year-old says. “I recognised the privileges I had, but also the difficulties others had, and that led me to really want to be a midwife. To me, it’s the ultimate job - helping birthing people through the most joyous but potentially most nerve-wracking experience of their life.”
Candice says she’s always been a driven person and loves trying new things. She enrolled for the Bachelor of Midwifery at Ara after talking to midwives who’d done their training at Ara. “They raved about the degree. They spoke of the wide scope of learning – be it creative, communicative, aural, visual or practical experience. A common thing I heard was that you never come out the other side the same person and I’d certainly agree.”
Initially, Candice was “terrified” that she’d fail, that she wouldn’t be smart enough. And as a self-described homebody, she was also worried about having to travel to do her clinical placements and experience rural midwifery. However, she soon realised she needn’t have been.
“The pace of the degree was perfect. The foundations you build in your first year, combined with easy practice hours, set me up completely for the rest of the degree. I couldn’t have imagined I’d be able to put in IV lines, take bloods, understand the physiology of birth or even be confident watching a birth, but they got me there!”
Candice credits that to her tutors, who she says were all quite different. "I loved their diversity. Some were practical, some chatted more, and some were stricter. It was the perfect way to both keep me in my comfort zone and push me out of it.”
Candice says the degree was very thorough, covering everything from Hauora Māori and colonisation to philosophy, epidemiology, biology and practical skills. “It nailed it all. I felt like they included everything.”
Today, Candice is a registered midwife working as a lead maternity carer with Rata Midwives in Christchurch. In the future, she wants to get a master’s degree and teach or undertake research. She’d like to see more people get into midwifery and encourages anyone who’s considering the Ara degree to “just do it - dive in”.
Looking back at her study experience, Candice says the highlight then was – and still is - watching people become parents. “Catching babies. The laughing and the tears. It’s so very emotional and just extremely humbling. I know I’ll never stop learning. There’s no way I could ever know it all and it’s just so special to be able to give that autonomy and power back to women and birthing people.”