Master’s fast tracks research career for international alumna

12 November 2021

Rachita in a lab
Master of Science graduate Rachita Radhakrishna Pai achieving her goals working at STgenetics.

Rachita Radhakrishna Pai’s path has always been focused on science – knowing as early as primary school that she knew she wanted to enter a career in biology. Her aspirations were solidified when she learnt her father had a terminal illness, and Rachita wanted to understand her father’s illness and treatment plan, which further piqued her interest in medical research.

Rachita already had a Bachelor of Science with Honours from the University of Bradford, a collaborative programme offered at the Management Development Institute of Singapore where she attended, but she knew to achieve her goals of becoming a great researcher she would need a master’s degree from a reputable university.

So Rachita made the move to New Zealand in 2019 to pursue a Master of Science (MSc) in molecular and cellular biology at the University of Waikato.

“When I was looking around, I found that most New Zealand universities provided a broad master’s discipline, but Waikato was more specialised in what I was interested in. The University of Waikato has a very strong School of Science, and I wanted to study under the best minds in the country,” she says.

Rachita also knew that completing the Master’s program would increase the value of her undergraduate degree, and she was excited that the degree aligned so well with her passion.

“Molecular and cellular biology is an interdisciplinary field combining biochemistry, microbiology, genetics and physiology to study how cells function at the molecular level, all of which lies in my interests and experience.

“I am really passionate about research and the MSc degree provided me with the relevant knowledge I needed as a researcher in order to provide valuable insights into the basis of human and animal diseases.”

As an international student, Rachita was initially worried about the prospect of coming to New Zealand and not knowing anyone. However, her decision to live in the University’s self-catered hall of residence Orchard Park helped change that. “Orchard Park has a good balance between meeting new people and having independence, along with the security and support of living on campus.”

With new-found friends, Rachita immersed herself in all part of campus and halls of residence life; cooking, cleaning, shopping and exploring New Zealand with her cottage mates.

“I made life-long friends. We still hang out and remember the fun-filled days on campus. Although, campus hot dogs and cold ice cream don’t taste as good as they did back then.”

In her last few months of study Rachita used the University’s Career Development Services to refine her CV and cover letters, and by graduation had multiple job offers. She has now settled into life after study, putting her degree to good use at STgenetics in Hamilton where she measures and analyses breeding bulls’ genetics for agri-tech and herd improvement company LIC.

“My master’s degree was a significant milestone in my life and marked the beginning of my research career. If you have a serious goal, Waikato is the place to pursue your postgraduate study.”

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