You could never say that Mariam was someone that shied away from hard work. Her tertiary journey took her seven years to complete but the process helped her understand where her passions lay. Her story would resonate with many other students, as she initially wasn’t sure about which degree to pursue. At Carmel College, while Mariam had enjoyed most subjects she didn’t quite enjoy anything enough to be like “yes, that’s what I want to do, and it was actually after a process of elimination that I decided to pursue a degree in Law, and I eventually decided on the BCom/LLB conjoint as it seemed to be quite a popular degree combination”.

In her third year after dabbling across a few majors she realised that Commerce wasn’t for her, but she didn’t give up. With enrolment deadlines looming and only a few days to decide, she went to the business school to look at Career Guides. “I saw the Bachelor of Property and after doing a bit of research I instantly knew that this was for me. I’m a really indecisive person, but with this I made my decision in 24 hours.” The rest is history. Within a year of applying for a Bachelor of Property, Mariam was awarded the 2016 Keystone Trust Bayleys scholarship.

Born in Baghdad, Iraq, Mariam Baho and her family had moved to Jordan to escape war. In 1996 they came to New Zealand, settling in the North Shore. “I still speak Arabic at home, with my family, and have always been in awe at how my mum managed to learn to speak English watching tv”. With this kind of background, it’s not surprising that Mariam was keen to take advantage of everything that was offered to her, including the Keystone Bayleys scholarship when she heard about it. “What really attracted me to apply for Keystone was the opportunity to see what people with a bachelor of property actually do in practice. Keystone gave me the opportunity to rotate through the Bayleys team, to find out what the role of property managers and property valuers entails, and what commercial leasing is all about. Being able to get a vibe for the environment and the atmosphere was amazing. I looked forward to days that I had work. Everyone looked out for me and were so lovely. I was also lucky enough, through Keystone, to go onto sites to view the different construction stages of various developments”.

Mariam not only fully embraced her scholarship with Bayleys, but she used that year to make lasting connections within the Keystone sponsor family. “I applied for a clerkship at MinterEllisonRuddWatts in 2018 and was lucky enough to rotate in the property and the construction team.” Even though she had chosen it later in her university journey, her decision to combine property and law was exactly what she needed. “It’s made my law degree so much easier. I think a lot of people that do law don’t realise that it’s such a good degree combination! There is so much land law and people go into it not knowing what a chattel is and the basic stuff that you learn in a property degree. Working at MinterEllison is a mix of both and it helps me to make the best use of my knowledge and from the get-go I was like, I love this.”

There was now no stopping Mariam as of 2019 she has finished her studies and is working in the Construction team at MinterEllisonRuddWatts. Mariam is clear in acknowledging the role Keystone played in helping her into her career. “I was so lucky to have that year. I would not be where I am right now without the scholarship and all the experience, support and networks that came with it. I’m a firm believer in the idea that you’ve got to knock on all the doors that come your way, and the ones that are meant for you will open. Keystone was a definite stepping stone in terms of getting into the industry, and I enjoy catching up with all the familiar faces at Keystone events”.

After meeting with Mariam, I am duly aware that my own years at uni were not nearly as productive, illustrious or demanding. I was tired, man! University is hard. There’s a certain level of effort required to juggle a professional job and the late-night group projects of university that I could only sometimes muster. Mariam however, has that magical, elusive ability to put her mind to a challenging task and thrive at it, and with such an attitude, we have no doubt that she will continue to be successful for years to come.

If you want to share your own experience with Keystone, be it as a sponsor, alumni, or current student, please get in touch at jenny@keystonetrust.org.nz. I can’t promise it will be this glowing, but we can give it a shot!

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