Grace Smart

'I'm finding my history degree really relevant because policy involves a lot of critical thinking...'

  • Grace Smart

Bachelor of Arts in History, Chinese and French

Bachelor of Arts with Honours in History

Policy Advisor, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Wellington

Grace's undergraduate degree in History, Chinese and French may have been a big challenge, but she feels that all her subjects complemented each other perfectly.

'For me, studying Chinese and French has augmented my understanding of the world by providing me with a cultural understanding to add to my knowledge of history,' she says.

'I love the global focus of History, and I especially enjoy modern history which is so relevant to the world today. I also think that studying a language provides a unique view into another culture. Chinese has been an incredibly interesting and challenging language to learn. It's so rewarding because there's such a rich history behind the language, and it feels like such an accomplishment to learn a language so completely different from English.'

She adds that she chose French because she enjoyed it at high school and wanted to take it further.

'Studying French at tertiary level really pushed me, and has inspired me to live and work in France after university.'

Grace's Honours research paper was on the relationship between China and Tibet, through which she graduated with First Class Honours.

'I was so excited to do more independent research into such a complex issue that continues to be debated today.'

She also studied New Zealand history.

'It has really opened my eyes to the rich history this country has, which sometimes gets overlooked because we have only existed as a nation for a short time.

She adds: 'Studying at honours level was great because the lecturers really start to treat you like a peer and help make sure you succeed.'

Grace says that the breadth of what she has studied has been one of the best things about her degree.

'Studying History has given me the chance to cover subjects from women's rights in India to the causes of the Gulf War. I enjoy the research and analytical thinking involved, and becoming totally immersed in a subject. There are always so many different avenues of research to take and diverse ways of looking at history.'

Her studies in History was also good preparation for her current role in the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment as a Policy Advisor. She says that the skills gained from an Arts degree is especially well-suited to the job opportunities available in government.

‘I'm finding my history degree really relevant because policy involves a lot of critical thinking and communication skills (especially a high level of written communication) which I learned from my degree,’ she says.

As a local girl, Grace had taken steps to contribute to the Christchurch and UC communities in her spare time. She was the secretary of the Student Volunteer Army (SVA) which has been 'one of the best things I've done while at uni'. She says that the SVA is a unique club because it offers students the chance to give back to the community while making new friends and seeing new aspects of Christchurch.

'It's been a really exciting time to work with the SVA as we have transitioned from earthquake relief to a permanent volunteering organisation.

'Our clubs culture is one of the highlights of studying at Canterbury – there's always something happening to get involved in.'

Grace was also a mentor for a student in the Arts Scholarship Programme, having been an Arts Scholar herself in 2012.

'The Programme is a great opportunity for Arts students – aside from the financial assistance, you also attend master classes on special topic, get introduced to a range of new people and are given a mentor for support and guidance.

'Canterbury has such a great student culture and I love the feeling of being on campus surrounded by like-minded students.'

Lily bale

Lily Bale

'The Translation and French courses I picked looked exciting and stimulating...'

Sam Brosnahan

Sam Brosnahan

'My degree is gearing me up to work in an evolving and increasingly international business environment...'