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.

Central Leader - - NEWS -

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.

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