Bachelor of Laws with Honours, Bachelor of Social Sciences (Major in Political Science / Minor in Sociology)
- Bachelor of Laws with Honours
- Bachelor of Social Sciences (Major in Political Science / Minor in Sociology)
- Te Paewai o te Rangi: The University of Waikato Scholarship for Outstanding Academic Achievement
Vinod Bal may have applied to do law at Waikato University on what he describes as “a whim,” but he is in no doubt he made the right decision and that engaging with the law is what he was always supposed to do.
The fifth-generation New Zealand Indian was born in Ngāruawāhia and attended Waipā Primary and Fraser High schools.
A keen problem solver and computer jammer throughout school, in Year 13 Vinod discovered the American legal drama series How to Get Away with Murder.
“I thought to myself ‘that looks cool, I wanna do that’, and applied to Te Piringa – Faculty of Law to do a Bachelor of Laws.
“I always had a keen sense of justice derived from my childhood experiences; [I was] a loudmouth that used to argue points of equity and had a desire to do better for all those who were marginalised, both in Aotearoa and overseas.”
Vinod was awarded scholarships to both Waikato and Auckland universities but chose Waikato where he was in the inaugural year for Te Paewai o te Rangi: The University of Waikato Scholarship for Outstanding Academic Achievement.
“I chose Waikato because of what it stands for, epitomised by its motto “ko te tangata” or “for the people.” It was important to me that my tertiary education was first and foremost, people-centric, and Waikato delivered this in spades.”
In addition to his studies, Vinod had worked for three years as Employee Engagement Manager at Inspiration Education, a personalised academic coaching company for secondary school students. Through this role, he developed and led a project at Waikato District Health Board’s Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre providing coaching to forensic mental health service users. He’s also worked and studied in Europe and Asia in areas including commercial law, trade unionism, and human rights.
Last year he and Waikato University PhD student, Cayathri Divakalala founded Adhikaar Aotearoa, a charity which advocates for queer and trans people of colour, predominantly those from South Asia.
“We’ve engaged with ministries, members of Parliament, ministers, and other non-Government organisations to advocate for our communities. We did a bit of work on the Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill, and have undertaken a few other policy tasks.'
“Many LGBT+ people of colour, particularly LGBT+ South Asians are unable to come out because of societal and familial pressures.”
Vinod is about to start full time public service work in Wellington and wants to pursue further study in international law at postgraduate level and then as part of a PhD.
“I really enjoy how international law touches upon the core of what the law is all about, the protection and rights’ realisation of the individual.”
He took as many international-related papers as he could at Waikato University including Public International Law, Human Rights Law, International Relations, and wrote his dissertation on how international criminal law can provide protection to persecuted LGBT+ individuals.
“I want to advocate on behalf of and with other marginalised communities.”
In the future, he would like to pursue study opportunities in the United States, the United Kingdom, Switzerland or The Netherlands.
“I’d love to become an academic lawyer, but hope to get a decade or so of experience in international organisations like the United Nations, the International Criminal Court or the International Committee of the Red Cross [first].”
Vinod is graduating in April at Te Kohinga Mārama Marae on campus, where his family can watch on and celebrate with him.
His five years at Waikato University has left him in no doubt, “this is the place to be if you want to make change in the world”.
While he has won scholarships, awards, spoken at conferences, engaged in international and domestic advocacy and research at Waikato, his biggest highlight has been the people.
“I have met some of my best friends at the University of Waikato. We have talked about our goals and aspirations and being the change that we want to see in the world and in Aotearoa.
“The next generation of change makers have been cultivated within the walls of this institution and I am so proud and privileged to have studied alongside them. None of my achievements would have been possible without them,” says Vinod.