'My goal is to find meaning in my work by helping others...'
Studying towards a PhD in Health Sciences
Home Support Worker, IDEA Services
As a trained counsellor and with previous studies in undergraduate Psychology, Neville aimed to make it his life goal to help and understand others.
‘I have always had this desire to understand people and understand what their stories are. I began finding meaning listening to people without judgment and helping them see their own resources and find their own way through their circumstances,’ he says.
Coming from the village Anjuna in the smallest state in India, Goa, he endeavoured to study overseas to gain more knowledge in Counselling from other cultural perspectives. New Zealand seemed to be a unique option for postgraduate study that would have the most benefits.
‘I would say NZ chose me,’ Neville says. ‘Most Indian students want to go for their further studies to the USA or UK, Canada, Germany or one of those places. I decided I didn’t want to go where everyone else is going but at the same time get an education that is respected worldwide. NZ was the perfect answer to this.
‘I feel very privileged because there are not many universities that support research in Counselling. When I found UC and saw that they were keen to support and supervise a doctoral research in Counselling I knew that this was the place for me.’
Neville’s PhD study analyses how young adult immigrants deal with the stress of natural disasters, which was inspired by the Christchurch earthquakes and period of uncertainty for refugee groups in the area at the time.
‘Currently my doctoral thesis is a fusion of all things I am passionate about – counselling, mindfulness and working with young adults,’ he says. ‘My thesis is exploring mindfulness in counselling as a coping mechanism with refugee youth from Bhutan in the context of their resettlement and facing a natural disaster.
‘I chose to work with the Bhutanese refugees who were at the time of the earthquakes NZ’s newest refugee community. Coming from the same part of the continent as them I have a deep understanding of their culture and also share a common language, and being a young adult myself I figured they might be a little less resistant to telling me their stories. My research was received well by the Bhutanese community in Christchurch, and at the Canterbury Refugee Council who have supported me right from the time I began.’
Outside of UC, Neville’s work with Intellectual Disability Empowerment in Action (IDEA) Services is something that also inspires his studies and career goals. His role involves working with young adults with intellectual disabilities, and supporting them in their aspirations and independence.
‘My goal is to find meaning in my work by helping others. I have chosen to be in the helping profession and I do not for a moment regret it. Long term I see myself working in the field of mental health mostly with young people from under privileged backgrounds (like refugees).’
He found a lot of use from the Careers team at UC to help him get this experience, after worrying his CV was not meeting New Zealand standards. ‘I went for their CV writing sessions and even booked some one-on-one appointments to have someone review my CV. The end result, I learned to write a “Kiwi” CV and have a job!’
Neville also makes a point of supporting his fellow students at UC through work in the Student Experience team. He supports the team with orientation events, and is also a student mentor directly helping other international students adjust to life in Christchurch and at UC.
‘It’s my way of helping others the way I was helped and passing forward the kindness that I have received from UC. Being a mentor also gives me the opportunity to meet some amazing people from different parts of the world and get involved in some really fun events and orientation day.’
During his first few years, he also joined a global student club started by Christchurch Educated, which later became the official UC-affiliated club CEISA. The club supports international students at UC and arranges city-wide cultural events for students to participate in.
‘It’s basically a group of us very enthusiastic students returning all the good that was done for us and spreading the enthusiasm all the way. I am currently the chief ambassador of the club. There is so much freedom and so many opportunities to get involved and be a part of the larger community.’
With so much gained from his time and Counselling studies at UC, Neville strongly encourages others to make the most of their opportunities at university and take their studies far.
‘They need to take the plunge. Attempt the unknown, don’t go where the path leads – go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. Don’t be too worried about spending on this degree, remember it is an education and an education is something you will keep for your entire life. It is a very life-changing experience and definitely not in a negative way. If you are considering studying at UC then think of it as an investment in yourself.’