Psychology student Aurand Tou was one of 28 high-achieving Pacific students who received a Tertiary Achievement in Pacific Ako (TAPA) award at a special ceremony on Wednesday 24 October.
The annual TAPA awards were established to encourage the achievement and participation of Pacific students in tertiary education. Earlier this year the University of Waikato launched a new Pacific Plan to further support and develop Pacific students, researchers and staff, focusing on ways to build and enhance Pacific achievement.
Currently in his final year of a Bachelor of Social Sciences majoring in Psychology, Aurand says he’s humbled to be acknowledged with a TAPA award. “I’m over the moon,” he says. “I really enjoyed sharing this moment with my friends and family who have helped me get to where I am today.”
What made you choose to study at Waikato?
Both of my parents studied here so I wanted to follow in their footsteps. I also chose Waikato because the Psychology degree is more culturally grounded than those offered at other New Zealand universities.
What’s your favourite subject and why?
Indigenous Psychology because it offers a different paradigm to understanding human behaviour than mainstream psychology. I also see the usefulness of Abnormal Psychology for shifting the overrepresentation of Pacific people in the mental health statistics.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I wake up early to make sure I’m at uni by 8am. I tend to be here all day due to my classes and extra commitments – researching, mentoring Pacific students in my faculty and volunteering for student associations to support Pacific youth.
You’ve won a TAPA (Tertiary Achievement in Pacific Ako) award. How do you feel about that?
It means a lot to me. My family and my community have supported me every step of the way, so the fact that they can be present at the ceremony recognises their tremendous help.
How have you changed at your time at Waikato?
I’ve changed a lot. I came to uni viewing myself as an open-minded person, but I have since realised how narrow my way of thinking was. It’s been a time of reflection and self-discovery – an ideal environment to choose what kind of person I want to be.
What’s your number one tip for making the most of uni life?
Make use of the services that the University offers – Student Learning, the various associations and the Waikato Students Union. My biggest study tip is to not forget the importance of self-care and breaks.
What do you plan on doing when you finish your degree?
I plan on doing a masters in order to become a qualified clinical psychologist. I hope to continue to help Pacific people in the area of mental health.
What would you advise other Pacific students who are thinking about studying at Waikato?
That it’s important to not lose your identity. University life will challenge who you are or how you see yourself, but we should always view our culture as an asset and a suit of armour.