'Finding a way that the environment, society and economy can all be prosperous really motivates me...'
Studying towards a Bachelor of Science in Geography
Residential Youth Worker, Te Poutama Ārahi Rangatahi
With a passion for making a difference, Sef’s studies in Geography looks at human effects on the environment, and ways to improve how one affects the other.
‘Finding a way that the environment, society and economy can all be prosperous without one degrading the other really motivates me,’ he says. ‘I want to be part of the movement that encourages the idea that the prosperity of these three things can be achieved harmoniously.’
Taking inspiration from modern environmental issues affecting the world, Sef hopes to one day contribute to finding the balance between societal progress and effects on the environment.
‘I want to be involved with not only the environment and social issues but in making sure that there is a better relationship between the environment and its people. Ultimately I would love to go back to Fiji and work with companies that engage with rethinking development through community-based economic prosperity and environmental wellbeing.’
Choosing what to study at first was a challenge, but after trying out Geography courses one year, Sef knew he had found a new interest.
‘Find something that you like and then do it to the best of your ability,’ he advises. ‘And in saying that – UC is vast enough that you can find something that will at least peak your interest as well as the support to help you succeed.’
Sef had always enjoyed visiting Christchurch previously, originally being from Auckland, and so the idea of attending UC was a great opportunity to him.
‘I think I was attracted to the possibilities that Christchurch could offer in terms of rebuilding a city, which incorporates its people and the environment. UC, with the involvement it has in the rebuild, seemed like the best choice to help me be a part of that process,’ he says.
‘Since coming down to Christchurch I have tried to take up at least one new activity a year. So far I have taken up snowboarding, surfing, mountain biking and tramping. It’s safe to say that one of my big interests is to do new things, challenge myself and spend as much time outdoors as possible.’
One of his favourite aspects of studying here is the freedom to explore these new hobbies while studying.
‘I think that might have something to do with the way courses are structured out and the feedback I get from lecturers and tutors, as well as my enjoyment for what I’m doing. I have still managed to see a lot of the South Island, take up new hobbies, find new friends and experience new adventures – all while trying to get through one semester at a time.’
Another new opportunity is a summer internship with Environment Southland in Invercargill, which he earned with the help of the UC Careers team.
‘I went to UC CareerHub when I started applying for summer internships and they were able to help not only with my CV and cover letter but gave me a lot of helpful advice for interviews and in being more proactive in job hunting. I'm doing environmental data and monitoring and I hope this opens doors for when I finish from UC.’
Currently, Sef works as a Youth Worker for Te Poutama Ārahi Rangatahi, a residential facility supporting male teens who have previously engaged in harmful sexual behaviour.
‘As a youth worker, I try to be someone they can casually talk to, someone to do activities with – whether it’s playing music, shooting hoops or riding bikes. It can be mentally and emotionally draining, but the positive impact and influence I have in these boys’ lives is the difference between them being a danger to themselves and to others or not, when they are back out in society.’
It’s this passion for positive change that motivates Sef in his studies toward a future career as well, and so he plans to ‘sponge up as much knowledge and information while at UC’ to make the most of it.
‘The best part about doing what I’m doing is that I love it and I feel that I’m going to be useful to my society,’ he says.