Melissa Leaupepe awarded at APSAA Conference for work on Study Fono

Melissa Leaupepe, Accommodation Resident Manager and Pasifika Support Lead, was awarded the Fred Johnson Award for best practice/professional achievement in Aotearoa at the 2022 Asia-Pacific Student Accommodation Association Conference. She received this recognition for her work establishing and managing Study Fono, an initiative which provides culturally aware academic support to Pacific students living in University Accommodation.

In July 2021, Melissa conducted a survey of Pacific students living in Accommodation and found that only 41% sought to engage in academic support activities. As a portion of these students were withdrawing from courses in their first semester, she connected with staff from the office of the Pro-Vice Chancellor Pacific and Te Papa Manaaki | Campus Care to address the growing concern of Pacific student academic success. Together they established Study Fono so Pacific students could receive academic support through a cultural lens to increase their engagement and success.

Melissa Leaupepe stands to the right of the image behind a podium. Behind her is a large screen with a powerpoint presentation detailing Pasifika Health and Wellbeing in Accommodation.
Melissa Leaupepe presenting on Study Fono at the 2022 APSAA Conference

This year staff from Accommodation, PVC-Pacific, and Te Papa Manaaki have been meeting with Pacific students every Monday at O’Rorke Hall. Students learned about support networks available to them, were provided food from local Pacific businesses, and studied in faculty-based groups. Outside of the weekly sessions, Te Papa Manaaki case managers check in individually on the students to ensure they are on track and help them as problems arise.

The Study Fono efforts have resulted in higher student retention rates this year and will continue to grow next year.

Melissa Leaupepe holds a plaque and award from APSAA