STEAM Ahead messages resonate strongly with students

Photos of students attending STEAM in 2016 and 2015
Photos of students attending STEAM in 2016 and 2015

A focus on self-awareness, self-discipline and self-affirmation marked STEAM Ahead, an annual recruitment day aimed at Year 13 Māori and Pacific students interested in studying science, technology, engineering, architecture and medicine.

Led by the Equity Office – Te Ara Tautika, STEAM Ahead supports the University’s commitment to being safe, inclusive and equitable. This year’s event also reflected the theme of personal stories and journeys, as highlighted by the whakataukī of respected kaumatua and activist Sir James Henare: “Tawhiti rawa tou haerenga ake te kore haere tonu. He nui rawa ō tātou mahi te kore e mahi tonu.” (You have come too far not to go further. We have done too much not to do more.).

Around 340 students from across the upper north island spent the day in a range of seminars and hands-on workshops, learning about the best strategies to succeed at our University. They also heard from alumni who credit their University of Auckland degrees for creating personal and professional opportunities they never dreamed of as students.

For prospective Engineering students at STEAM, the journeys of J’aime Laurenson and Matthew Ah Mu were nothing short of inspiring. J’aime, of Samoan descent, earned a conjoint Engineering and Law degree before completing a Masters of Business in commercialisation. The first person in the history of the University to earn 1st class Honours in Engineering and Laws in 2010, J’aime has spent the last six years working in the fields of intellectual property, management consultancy and, currently, as product manager/user experience for a start-up company that designs software to solve crime.

J’aime offered the students three pieces of advice: “Do something you love. Pick something relevant. Give yourself options.”

Fellow Engineering alumnus Matthew Ah Mu highlighted the creative challenges of an Engineering degree. “I transform,” he said, showing the students the various roads, streets, cycleways and buildings he has worked on as civil engineer. “With an Engineering degree, you can become anything. It teaches you to solve real problems and offers a new way of thinking.”

At the conclusion of STEAM, student representatives from each school were invited to share their personal learnings from the day. They described how STEAM helped them “see how architects can affect our communities” and “gain new insights into what I can do with an Environmental Science degree.” The words of “Chief”, a student from Lynfield College perhaps best reflected the value of STEAM: “Getting a university degree takes sacrifice and discipline but it’s worth it because it means we can give back to our families and communities.”

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