The new student association presidents discuss the importance of finding a place to belong within their professions through personal connections.

What does tūrangawaewae mean to you? Where do you feel most connected and empowered?

Tūrangawaewae for me acknowledges that the foundation of one's identity is not individually but collectively shaped by social, historical, economic and political contexts. Acknowledging these aspects are intricately intertwined with one's whakapapa and whenua directly influences what gives you meaning in life. 

Healthcare equity is what comes to the forefront of my mind, which is an important part of this equation. The richness of diversity within the medical school cohorts and the slowly changing face of the health professional workforce allows us to connect and learn from each other, whether this learning is spiritual, cultural or academic. 

Ensuring that individuals from all walks of life are empowered to have a voice at the table is what empowers me.

Advocacy is a powerful tool for empowering and connecting students, providing them with a safe space for voicing their opinions, innovating and individual growth. The voices within the medical student cohort are vital, powerful components in shaping our futures as health professionals. 

Do you feel connected with your class and wider university?

Connection is the fundamental essence of belonging. Student organisations such as regional medical students' associations provide a platform for student and community engagement, which fosters and strengthens social and emotional connections. Each cohort has their own unique challenges and opinions that they bond over, whether in person or over social media. I'm grateful for the opportunity to represent the collective medical student cohorts from across Aotearoa, from which I can learn, grow and connect with others.

Many young doctors will need to move away from home or from where they studied for their first jobs. How will you create a sense of home and belonging in a new town or city?

The beauty of Aotearoa is that the medical community is so interconnected, so with a little bit of whakawhanaungatanga (making connections), you may discover a friend of a friend or even a distant cousin within your new community. 

Be adventurous, be bold, get outside your comfort zone and challenge yourself.

Attend a conference or pick up a new hobby. You never know what exciting opportunities you will find within a new environment. 


What does tūrangawaewae mean to you? Where do you feel most connected and empowered?

For me, I feel most at home out on the farm or on the back of a horse. I also really enjoy the beach and water, which is definitely a place I can relax and be myself. A trip to the beach always restores my sense of belonging and is where I feel most connected with my inner self. 

How do you think students are welcomed into the veterinary profession?

From the beginning, the faculty works hard to make us feel welcome through organising a week of activities. From then on, we are surrounded by many inspiring veterinarians including our lecturers and guest speakers who share their stories and emphasise how they are there to help us transition into the profession. 

With the current shortage of vets in New Zealand, I think it is very important the profession is welcoming and supportive of students.

Many vets have provided great opportunities with hands-on experience, allowing me to get fully involved and feel accepted into the profession.

What are you most looking forward to in 2021 with regards to your studies?

I'm very keen on large animals, so I;m looking forward to our cattle health and the brand-new equine clinical studies papers. In early August, we have a two-week dairy calving practicum, which we undertake at a veterinary clinic of our choice. 

Practical experiences are something I believe we must make the most of, hence I am thoroughly looking forward to getting stuck in and putting into practice some of the skills we have learned over the past few years.  


What does tūrangawaewae mean to you?

Tūrangawaewae to me is about having a sense of belonging to allow you to be comfortable being yourself. I personally feel most connected and empowered in Dunedin a feeling I didn't have when I first arrived. Auckland is my primary home, and moving to Dunedin initially led me to feel homesick. But Dunedin now holds a special place in my heart, and I will never forget the experiences and skills I have gained here thus far. 

Dunedin has really allowed me to develop my identity and for me to discover who I truly am in this world.

Do you feel connected with your class and wider university?

The close-knit nature of our classes provides a family feel, and this is something I really value. Feeling connected helps when things get tough during the academic year, and the University of Otago's Faculty of Dentistry does a fantastic job at ensuring everyone feels that they have a wider support network. 

Many young dentists will need to move away from home or from where they studied for their first jobs. How will you create a sense of home and belonging in a new town or city?

I will take with me the understanding that this is the first stepping stone in my career, and the experience and knowledge I will gain is beneficial regardless of where I move. 

Ensuring that you continue some of your favourite hobbies is very important to create a sense of home.

As for me, my hobbies include cooking so this would be something I would maintain. Staying connected with family and friends regularly is something I would utilise as I have during my time in Dunedin. This ensures that, even when you are physically away from your home city, you can still create a mental environment where you feel comfortable in a new place.