When Dr Ang Jury walked into university for the first time at age 35, she didn’t even know what an essay was. After all, she was kicked out of high school at 15 for bad behavior.
Born in Waitara, Taranaki, she was the first person in her family to attend tertiary education and wondered if she could even do it. But Ang, who is now the chief executive of Women’s Refuge, started getting A-plus grades.
“The idea I could write and write well was really quite bizarre to me! When I saw I’d got an amazing first grade, it was sheer disbelief,” laughs Ang, 60, who studied social work before changing to sociology, which she loved.
“I’d made this deal with myself that if I could get through my first year with B marks, I’d be really happy and stick around. I ended up doing a Ph.D., exploring the shame within abusive relationships, and taught at Massey University as part of their Women’s Studies.”
For the past 25 years, Ang has been involved with Women’s Refuge, New Zealand’s largest non-government organization that’s dedicated to the prevention of domestic violence. She went from being a volunteer during her studies to advocacy, management, and board member roles. Seven years ago, she was made CEO.
“I’ve always been interested in understanding people who might’ve had a bit of a troubled past,” says Ang, who lives in Himatangi Beach, an almost two-hour drive from her Wellington office.
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