The secret to getting through lockdown: helping others

New York-born PhD candidate Kelly Misiti has been hit hard by the impact of Covid-19, awaiting news from her family while she watches the tragic events unfold from the other side of the world. But there’s one thing that gets her through – helping others.

Kelly Misiti is doing everything she can to help others during lockdown.

The Doctor of Philosophy in Education candidate is filling her days with tasks that bring joy to other people – supporting other postgraduate students with their studies, developing curriculum designs for primary school students and keeping residents in the university halls motivated – all the while balancing her own studies.

“I’ve lost a few people to the virus back home and it’s definitely really hard to be so far away from the people you love during a time like this,” says Kelly. “But keeping a good mentality, staying positive and busy, and focusing my energy on helping other people is the best thing for me to do right now.”

Kelly is the Vice President for the Education and Social Work branch of the Postgraduate Students’ Association, a group designed to strengthen the postgraduate community at the University of Auckland. She’s also a resident adviser at the University’s accommodation, where she is keeping other students’ spirits high by creating videos with tips and tricks for maintaining physical and mental wellbeing, and hosting online cooking clinics.

“Quite a few people have stopped me to tell me that the clinics have been helpful – it’s great to have that feedback and know that I’m doing something meaningful for them.”

Kelly balances this with her work EduExperts, where she is currently running online English and reading lessons for a class of mostly international students. She helps develop curriculums for the centre’s speech and debate courses, as well as Year 5 and 6 English.

I feel really lucky to be in a position where I can make a difference, and I just
can’t imagine living in a world where you don’t help people in need.

Kelly Misiti Faculty of Education and Social Work

Alongside her other commitments, Kelly is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Education and Social Work, where she is aiming to address a gap in curriculum design for former refugee background students.

“Right now, former refugee students aren’t really considered in the policy for ESOL curriculum – we tend to teach all English language learners the same way,” Kelly says. “But when you have students with different cultural, educational and emotional backgrounds, that doesn’t work. My research is aiming to figure out how we can make curriculums work better for these students.”

Her busy schedule requires meticulous planning and time management, but helping people has always been at the front of mind for Kelly.

“My grandfather taught me to root for the underdog from a young age. I feel really lucky to be in a position where I can make a difference, and I just can’t imagine living in a world where you don’t help people in need. There are so many people who are in need right now, and so many ways to help, so we can all do our bit!”