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Student story

Frederica (Freddie) Duncan

20 July 2023

"The Social Work degree teaches students to communicate in ways that are understanding, effective and empowering..."


Bachelor of Social Work

Freddie was motivated to study Social Work after realising that having a strong purpose in her future career was extremely important to her.

"Learning about the issues and challenges that people face and being able to help them overcome these, is one of the most fulfilling things to be a part of, and Social Work is a great way to be able to do this," she says. "I was very lucky to be dealt a good hand in life so I wanted to use it to help other people who did not have such a fortunate start."

Having the means to directly communicate and help others through social work has been especially empowering for Freddie. While studying, she has been able to work as a youth mentor and a nanny to gain more hands-on experience.

"I love learning about people and groups and why people behave in certain ways. The more understanding you can gain the more you are able to make sense of people’s actions and this makes it easier to help them, and to understand why people behave the way they do."

"The Social Work degree teaches students to communicate in ways that are understanding, effective and empowering and encourages reflection of the self and insight into your own behaviour, thoughts and feelings. Being able to communicate well and better understand people is invaluable, and these skills can be used throughout your life in any situation not just specific to one job or career. I feel like what I have studied is useful in every area of my life no matter what I do."

Placements as part of the degree have been a real highlight. Freddie’s first placement was with the Women’s Centre doing group therapy sessions around stress and anxiety management, and later with the Adult Community Team for Specialist Mental Health, working with the community at Hillmorton Hospital.

"I have also been on a field trip to the Women’s Prison which was incredible and was part of a paper about understanding Women Victimisation and Offending which I would highly recommend."

Originally from Auckland, Freddie is grateful that she had the opportunity to have a change from her home town to study at UC.

"The student community is so strong and supportive. I have made so many friends, the facilities are amazing, the lecturers are great, and UC also does an amazing job of facilitating other areas of students’ lives through clubs, events and sports."

She is an enthusiastic member of a number of UCSA clubs, including UCOM, ENSOC, Cuba and BYCSOC. She is also a regular user of the UC RecCentre and loves the free gym and yoga classes.

"This year my favourite club has been UC Meditation, it’s amazing and the teacher provides incredible ways to be happy and decrease stress and anxiety."

Freddie enjoys the proximity to the amazing landscape of the South Island and when not studying regularly explores the region for snowboarding and photography.

"There’s nowhere that is as close to the mountain and the sea! It’s amazing to be in the middle of the South Island and have so much amazing landscape to access."

Looking forward to where her degree will take her into a future career, Freddie is quick to recommend Social Work to others thinking about supporting the community in a variety of ways.

"This is such a broad degree with very applicable skills that can take you so many different places," she says. "I can see myself working in a number of areas, my main areas of interest being human trafficking, indigenous rights, holistic health (mental and physical), community development, nutrition and environmental social work."

"Go for it! Be open to learning and having your viewpoints challenged."

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