Meet this year’s winners of the Sumner Ferrymead Foundation’s three academic scholarships – for university students studying the sciences, health sciences and the humanities - to hear about their career aspirations and their concerns for humanity. Despite the challenges facing not just NZ but the world in general, you are left feeling the future is in good hands.
Recipient of the $5000 Humanities Scholarship for a 2nd year student studying the arts at university.
What are you aiming to do when you graduate?
Honestly I’m not sure what I want to do when I graduate, I’ve still got another 3 years to figure it out because of my double degree. I would really like to go overseas if Covid isn’t a problem and use my language skills to work for NGO’s or work within Aotearoa in a government department like MFAT.
What does the scholarship mean for you?
The Scholarship means so much to me and not just financially. I often feel that excellence in the humanities is not recognised in the same way that excellence in STEAM subjects are. But learning history, philosophy and so much more is just as important and really helps create well rounded intellect and an understanding of society. The scholarship will also be a huge help in pursing my studies and I am so grateful for the Sumner Ferrymead Foundation for awarding it to me.
What would you like to be doing in 10 years time?
In 10 years I will be 30! I would like to either be a junior partner in a law firm dealing perhaps with public law or human rights issues or perhaps running a humanitarian response in places of need and working in the field.
What is the biggest challenge facing people of your generation and why?
I think the biggest challenge facing our generation is undoubtedly climate change. I think it’s something that almost all young people hold in the back of their minds, it’s like a collective anxiety, and the inevitability that it will become our sole responsibility can be pretty overwhelming. People especially young people are becoming disillusioned, burnt out by the horror of the situation and its easy to understand why. I had the pleasure of meeting Dr Jane Goodall in 2019 and I asked her how she remains positive and doesn’t get climate fatigue. She reminded me to think globally and act locally. You can only control so much, especially when so much of the climate crisis is created by industries who actions we cannot effect as individuals, so focusing locally prevents climate fatigue and can create meaningful change.
What is the biggest challenge facing humanity and why?
Climate change is also the biggest physical challenge facing humanity. I would also argue that social media is one of the biggest challenges facing humanity right now, as so much hate and division is being sowed on online platforms. Our institutions and politics aren’t built to cope with the unique challenges social media presents. Misinformation, radicalisation and manipulation of social media platforms is something that will get worse before it gets better and needs to be seriously addressed to avoid further issues particularly that of social division which the algorithms are all made to exacerbate.
If you could change one thing in NZ would it be and why?
NZ is certainly not a utopia and there are many things that I would change. I think there is this idea that we are a post gender and post racial society when neither of those things are true and I would like to see more social advocacy and more acknowledgement of the problems we do have in areas of gender and race. I was fortunate enough to go to an all-girls school so the idea of people still being sexist was absolutely foreign to me. I’ve come to learn however that sexism is subtle and a lot of the historic ideas around what it means to be a man or a woman or whatever are still super prevalent particularly in regard to sexual assault. The ‘boys will be boys’ attitudes are unfortunately common and sexual assault in its ‘lesser’ forms is very normalized. This creates increasingly dangers problems when left with a response of “ it’s not that bad” or “you’re overreacting it was just a bit of fun”, which seems to be the most common reaction to these sought of problems. So that’s something I would definitely like to see change within NZ’s culture.