Student Stories: Clyde Smith

Clyde Smith shares his journey and how CDES and the Prime Ministers Scholarship helped him realise his true passion.

“I grew up in Tūranganui-a-Kiwa (Gisborne), a part of Aotearoa that is beautiful in terms of both the natural and cultural environments. Despite this, I grew up in the face of immense wealth inequality and poverty, a symptom of the deep rooted health and social issues facing some of New Zealand’s most marginalised communities. It was obvious to me that Māori were (and had been for generations) disproportionately suffering from the consequences of such issues. Why were things not changing? What could I do to help? For me, becoming a doctor was a part of the solution, a means to achieving a tangible and positive change for my community. After my first year of pre-med at University however I began to realise my passions and aspirations for change aligned with a broader, societal-level focus. Change needed to occur at a government and policy level. This realisation is what started me on the pathway I am on today.

"Bachelor of Health Sciences was an incredible degree, it challenged my perspectives and expanded my mind, and gave me the skills and knowledge that I needed to pursue this pathway. My first population health paper (which is similar to public health) quite frankly blew my mind. I learned about the correlation between wealth and health, the impact of inequalities on health, and most importantly the existence of and reasons behind inequities between Māori and non-Māori. The life I had lived during my childhood was starting to make a lot more sense, and I wish that my friends and whānau could learn the same things.

Things change, society changes, and opportunities will arise that you cannot comprehend.

"I heard about the Career Development and Employability Services (CDES) team when I was reviewing my interview skills and the quality of my CV during the application process for the 2018 Prime Ministers Scholarship to Mumbai. CDES gave me (and the rest of the scholarship recipients) a lot of support and made us aware of resources that were available. The outcome of this process was incredible as I was given the privilege of getting the scholarship to Mumbai!

"On my return to New Zealand I was offered my dream position at the Ministry of Health. I am now living in Wellington and working full time as a Policy Analyst in the Māori Health Directorate. My job is to ensure that government health policy meets the needs and rights of Māori communities. The interview process was scary but because of all my experience with interviews during my time at university and reviewing my interview skills with CDES, I felt extremely prepared and confident.

"Stay open minded, we don’t always have to know what we want to do – I originally wanted to become a medical doctor. Have strong goals but realise there are multiple avenues to achieving those goals."