Patricia Pillay

Patricia has seized the opportunities to explore unique collections and diverse archaeological projects available to her after jumping into postgraduate study.

Patricia Pillay

Key facts

Programme: Bachelor of Arts (Honours) / Master of Arts
Specialisation: Anthropology

“I am a zoo-archaeologist who is working on various research projects and has undertaken a bit of consultant archaeology work. I will be starting my PhD later this year in Anthropology, specialising in Archaeology and focusing on human-environmental interactions in the Pacific, at the University of Auckland.

“My curiosity about the interconnected relationships between humans and animals and changing environments was the reason I decided to pursue postgraduate studies. The opportunity to develop independent research, whilst working with high-ranking academic staff seemed like too good an opportunity to pass!

“The biggest difference between postgraduate and undergraduate study is the lack of lecture-styled content delivery in postgraduate study. It involves student-led seminars and requires independent thinking and personal engagement with course content, as well as commitment and diligence. This becomes manageable with the support and resources provided by the Faculty. There are opportunities to even share your research at seminars and as part of outreach events. Time management and self-discipline are critical skills in postgraduate study, essential to meet deadlines, achieve larger research goals and deliver output. In postgraduate study, the more you participate, the more you learn and develop a range of skills.

“My Arts degree has provided me the ability to articulate my thoughts and present them in a cohesive framework. This is useful for communicating the importance of conservation and heritage and long-term environmental processes in an effective manner, especially with those outside my discipline. Studying in the Faculty of Arts has taught me to think critically as well as consider the voices of multiple world views!

My experience with postgraduate study has equipped me with a toolkit of analytical skills that are transferable across a range of career paths.

“The University of Auckland has a high research calibre, and the staff provide unique perspectives which challenge my thinking.

“I love the potential for interdisciplinary collaboration, the flexibility in the program structure, and the amazing staff and students that make up the Faculty of Arts. We have a strong and supportive cohort, and the Anthropology students are always happy to share ideas and exchange skills. There are a range of associations available. The Auckland Archaeological Society provides excellent financial, networking, and social support for students. I am also part of the Auckland Archaeology Society on campus, and a committee member for Te Pūnaha Matatini which is a great network to connect with other postgraduate students and professional researchers.

“After I finish my postgraduate study, I envision myself working as a researcher for a university institution or larger government organisation in conservation and/or heritage management. I aspire for a career pathway that allows me to engage on some level with different communities.

“My advice to students thinking of studying in Arts is to not be afraid to challenge yourself and keep in mind that your ideas and opinions might change throughout your postgraduate study.”

Patricia is a recipient of a Kupe Leadership Scholarship and Summer Research Scholarship