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Jackson Nichols

New Zealand Defence Force
NZSE Hamilton

Determined and focused, Jackson’s passion for joining the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) burned bright, but he needed a different route to achieve his goal – Jackson felt that a traditional academic setting didn’t suit him. At 17 years old, living in the Waikato, he left school during his final year at Cambridge High and made a pivotal decision to enrol at NZSE’s School of ATC.

“I never really liked school that much, yet I've always wanted to join the New Zealand Defence Force. [Enrolling in ATC] was a good opportunity for me to get my level three credits, stay in school, and work towards getting to the New Zealand Defence Force.”


This choice marked the beginning of Jackson’s journey towards his dream career in the NZDF and during his ATC training, Jackson’s exceptional leadership qualities shone through. He became the Campus IC (student ‘in charge’) and was recognised as Student of the Month—a true reflection of his dedication and commitment.

During his time at NZSE, Jackson completed the New Zealand Certificate in Study and Career Preparation (Level 3) followed by the New Zealand Certificate in Security (Foundation) (Level 3). The ATC programme not only equipped him with essential knowledge and skills but also nurtured his personal growth. Jackson found himself excelling in problem-solving, decision-making, literacy, and numeracy. Moreover, the physical training instilled in him strength and resilience, while fostering leadership qualities and confidence.

“When it comes to how NZSE helped me develop – skill-wise the big one is leadership, along with confidence.”

Lifelong Skills

For Jackson, NZSE helped make it possible for him to move forward in a promising career, and to make the commitment to serve his country and honour his family.

“What does joining the NZDF mean to me? Serving my country and giving back to my family and the people that raised me.”

Having graduated, Jackson’s embarked on the next phase of his journey: basic training at The Army Depot – Waiouru Military Camp, stepping closer to a role with the NZDF. As Jackson takes this inspiring step forward, he is a shining example of how you can rise above challenges, find direction and reach new heights.

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