Meyer Neeson is looking forward to applying what she learns through the Master of Urban Design programme to make a positive influence on people's daily lives.
As a student at Sacred Heart Girls' College in New Plymouth, Meyer demonstrated an aptitude for graphics and the sciences. She always knew, however, that the creative industries held the key to her future.
Why did you choose to study a master's degree at the University of Auckland?
"I am Taranaki born and bred which meant making a big move to achieve my educational goals.
"The outdoors and beaches were a huge part of my life and well-being in Taranaki, and I could envisage similar lifestyle opportunities in Auckland.
"The University of Auckland appealed to me due to its high ranking and excellent reputation. The School of Architecture and Planning is truly a supportive and social environment to learn in.
"After my four years as an undergraduate studying a Bachelor of Urban Planning (Honours), a fifth year studying a masters degree was super daunting. All of my friends were getting jobs and celebrating the end of study, yet I was preparing myself for another year of hard work.
"On reflection however, the decision I made to commit to a master’s degree was definitely the right one for me. It aligned with my passions and it was the next logical step in the direction of achieving my ideal career."
I can't wait for the day I see people enjoying the spaces that I have designed.
What has stood out for you so far as a highlight of the programme?
"I expected masters-level study would be a step up from undergraduate and I had braced myself for a tough year in general. I soon came to realise though that I had the support of incredible peers and lecturers; we are a group of people with common interests and I’m incredibly glad I chose to be part of it.
"There is no doubt the workload and expectations are higher, but the difference is that if you're passionate about what you're studying, you're more willing to put time and effort into your projects.
"This year was supposed to include an overseas trip and learning experience but unfortunately, Covid-19 had other ideas. Instead, we have slowly travelled the world on Google Maps, and despite the restrictions of online learning, I have still felt incredibly engaged in the tasks, lectures and discussions."
.. despite the restrictions of online learning, I have still felt incredibly engaged in the tasks, lectures and discussions.
Tell us about your lecturers and supervisors
"My lectures are hugely knowledgeable and approachable. At masters level the interaction you have with lecturers is different, I have come to realise that they enjoy students coming to discuss topics and providing discussion.
The lecturers like to challenge us but also work alongside us. I appreciate their desire for us to achieve and develop our expertise."
Do you feel your master's degree will help you achieve your goals for the future?
"Looking at how spaces work has always interested me - why people like some but don’t like others. Originally, I was set on studying architecture, but after exploring the options of on offer at the University, I changed my mind.
"I studied urban planning as a base and foundation toward my goal of completing my Master of Urban Design. The two disciplines work really well together. Although planning is not a prerequisite, design builds on the theoretical planning base and layers it with a creative yet realistic, hands-on skill set that brings ideas and concepts to the ground.
"Once I finish my master's degree, I intend to head out into the workforce and contribute to positive design outcomes. The part of urban design that drives me the most is striving to achieve results that have a positive influence on people in their daily lives.
"I can't wait for the day I see people enjoying the spaces that I have designed; I think these are the moments I will feel accomplished and successful in my career. I feel like this degree has given me another level of knowledge that has really been the icing on the cake. I am satisfied that my commitment to undertake a master's degree will prove critical in achieving my goals, and an asset to my knowledge and career."
I am satisfied that my commitment to undertake a master's degree will prove critical in achieving my goals, and an asset to my knowledge and career.
What advice would you give to somebody considering postgraduate study?
"I would highly recommend postgraduate study; it is a year of rich learning about your passion and generating personal growth and expertise in the discipline.
"I have developed more confidence in both myself and my work, as well as with presenting and communication skills, all of which will be of huge benefit for me in the workplace and my personal life."
Meyer grew up playing netball and hopes to take it up competitively in 2021. She cooks, bakes and creates dried flower arrangements. She enjoys travelling to San Francisco (pandemic permitting) to visit her brother, and works part-time as a nanny to support her studies.