Caps off to graduates
A batch of 6480 University of Auckland students have just graduated. Reporter Rose Cawley sat down with three of them to learn about their passions and where that has taken them in tertiary education.
WHEN Marcia Leenen-Young was growing up her mother drummed into her the importance of education.
‘‘When we were little kids she was like, ‘you are going to university’ and when I was flunking out at high school she said, ‘ you are going to university so you better pull your socks up’.’’
The 34-year-old’s childhood obsession with Asterix comics led her to years of study. She has just graduated with a PhD in Classics and Ancient History and is the first woman of Samoan descent to do so.
‘‘I’d say to my mum, ‘well you wanted me to go to university and get a degree’ and she’d say, ‘ well I didn’t tell you to stay there’.’’
While Leenen-Young was studying her PhD her mother, Teresa Young, was diagnosed with cancer and died.
‘‘I promised her that I would finish it and I promised myself I would submit it within 12 months of her passing and I handed it in 11 months after.’’
Leenen-Young wants to become an ancient history teacher.
Teacher Hana Turner reversed roles with her students and hit the books to get her masters in education.
The 41-year-old looked at how ethnicity affects the expectations teachers have for students.
She found teachers had
low expectations for Maori students and blamed Maori students and their families for their lack of success in the classroom.
Her thesis garnered attention and Te Ururoa Flavell used the research to question Minister of Education Hekia Parata on the topic.
Turner, of Ngati Ranginui descent, says some of the comments were appalling but she wasn’t shocked.
‘‘Someone said to me, ‘ when the teachers said these things about Maori how did it make you feel’ and I said, ‘ well it made me feel awful but it is nothing new because people have been talking around me like that my whole life’.’’
The Mt Roskill resident says a pale complexion has meant people are more openly racist around her.
‘‘Because I had a white face my schooling experience was fine but people are racist around me because they make an assumption about my family background because of the colour of my skin.’’
When Ella Tunnicliffe-Glass started at Auckland University she thought she would become a doctor but things turned out a little differently.
‘‘I decided it wasn’t for me so I turned my place down to instead do what I was most interested in which was music and psychology and then throughout my undergrad I sought ways to bring the two together.’’
The 22-year-old ended up researching perfect pitch and graduating with a Bachelor of Music with honours.
‘‘Absolute pitch is the ability to tell what a note is without any reference point, so I am interested in how that affects peoples’ musicianship but also what the brain is doing to make that happen and how the brain changes in response to musical training.’’
The Epsom resident was awarded a full scholarship to the University of Cambridge, where she will go on to study a Masters of Philosophy at the Centre for Music and Science.
New graduates, from left: Ella Tunnicliffe-Glass, Marcia Leenen-Young and Hana Turner are a few of the exciting minds to graduate in Auckland University’s autumn graduation week.