Una’s Story

From Sacred Heart Head Girl to Solicitor-General

Solicitor-General Una Jagose KC speaks to us about her memories of Sacred Heart, and how her experiences during her school years set her up for a successful career in Law. Una was Sacred Heart’s Head Girl in 1985.

Una was born in Ashburton, raised in Cambridge and attended Sacred Heart from 1981-1985. She was one of four sisters who all attended Sacred Heart, and her mother was on the Board of Governors during her time at school.

“Our family was really involved with the school, and I really loved my school years – it helped I was good at my studies, and that I made and kept good friends throughout my college years. Sacred Heart was a great place to grow up,” says Una.

“I remember laughing all the time. I also remember getting in trouble for laughing and talking all the time, but looking back on this it shows we were always allowed some freedoms to have a good time. That’s what school should be like,” says Una.

Some of Una’s fondest memories involved being part of musicals and debating.

“I really loved public speaking, I think now being a lawyer and litigator in a court that all this time I spent in musicals, making speeches and debating held me in good stead for my career. It also gave me confidence to be myself.”

Una spent time playing netball and played the clarinet (albeit not that well, in her words) while at Sacred Heart.

The biggest lesson I learnt at school was that life doesn’t follow one single path, and that there are many squiggly paths that you follow to get where you want to go.

“Before I got to Sacred Heart I genuinely thought I would do my high school years and when I finished high school, I would know what I want to do, then I would go to university with a clear vision.

“But I got to the end of high school and had no idea what I wanted to be ‘when I grew up’.

“My mother tells me I wanted to be an archaeologist at this stage of my life, but I don’t really remember that. I do remember talking to a career guidance person at school and feeling like I really just didn’t know what I wanted.”

  • Una’s Story

Una remembers many of her teachers fondly, however she recalls stories of her parents inviting them around for dinner.

“My mother was on the Board, and occasionally teachers would come around to my house for dinner. Having a teacher in my home was a little embarrassing, walking into the living room and my principal would just be sitting there. As an adult I can now see that isn’t something to be embarrassed about, and I think we were fortunate to have such a close friendship to some wonderful teachers,” says Una.

Even when she got to law school Una still wasn’t sure if that’s where she should be. It was this expectation that I would go to university and I am glad I did because somewhere between getting my degree and working at the Ministry of Consumer Affairs I realised I had this incredible love for – and saw such value in – service to the public.

“I continue to find it very satisfying to work supporting successive governments do what they are elected to do.”

Una said that throughout her Sacred Heart journey, she felt supported and respected. She felt like she was given space to find her own way.

“My advice to young people about to start high school is be yourself – school is a great opportunity to work out who you are. There is not one mould of success, there isn’t one thing that you can do to have the life that is perfect for you. There are many versions of happiness and success – so don’t be too hard on yourself. Know yourself and be true to yourself.”