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Student story

Jasvin Lala

20 July 2023

"If you are passionate about making a difference, Social Work is for you..."


Master of Social Work (Applied)

Jasvin has always aimed to support others and to "make a difference in the world", and had started her academic journey through Journalism and Psychology studies, writing human interest stories. Her experience lead her onto Psychology postgraduate studies at the University of South Pacific-Psychology researching the effects of climate change in small island nations, specifically in Tuvalu.

"I realised through interacting with the community and getting to know them that I wanted to do something hands on rather being on the peripheral. Thereafter, I realised that Social Work is my pathway," she says.

Originally from Fiji, Jasvin decided to attend UC for her Social Work studies, having "always loved New Zealand and especially Christchurch" and due to her interest in UC's programme.

"I especially liked their focus on practice in the final year," she says. "At the end of the day when things begin to make sense I feel a sense of euphoria. As we learn and move onto the next level or course we are able to build on that knowledge and skills, and I can see my personal growth as a Social Work student due to the careful selection and presentation of the courses."

She especially enjoys the mixture of theory and practical learning in her master's, including its focus on New Zealand's bicultural environment.

"Applied Social work is diverse. We familiarise ourselves about tangata whenua – their self-determination, their culture, traditions, values and most importantly their history and Tiriti of Waitangi.

"As future social workers we cultivate our professional ethical values relating it to social work theories and practice. In our field of study we also focus on mental health, and social work legislation and research."

Jasvin is particularly looking to start her future career in a wide variety of social work fields before settling on an area she can support others best.

"I am willing to work in any social work field to get diverse experience. I have a strong affiliation towards youth and community work which I will focus on after some experience. After working for some time, I would like to finally focus on advocacy."

Despite studying courses by distance, Jasvin has made the most of help at UC to develop skills in independent study.

"The lecturers are always there for their students," she says. "I have used Academic Skills Centre with regards to my assignments. They assisted me in developing my time management skills and how to enhance my writing skills."

The support available is definitely her favourite aspect of UC. After a health scare with pneumonia during one semester, Jasvin was worried about having to stay in hospital and look after her son at home, however the Social Work department and UC support services were able to assist.

"The support is amazing at all levels," she says. "The support from Social Work administration, lecturers, UC doctors and nurses, and the Student Development Team was amazing. I did not feel alone far from home - I felt like I was home with my family."

Jasvin highly encourages others to study what they enjoy, with Social Work being a great opportunity for those that would like a career working with people.

"If you are passionate about making a difference, Social Work is for you. Helping people makes me happy - it does not matter if it is something big or small. I believe one must do what they are passionate about."

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