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Student story

Rebekah Perry

20 July 2023

"I love that I get to see what I learn around me every day..."


Bachelor of Science in Geology and Geography

Master of Disaster Risk and Resilience

Being ‘always obsessed with the way the world worked’, Rebekah aimed to study subjects that explored the physical environments we live in.

While she initially came to study at UC for its reputation in Astronomy, she ended up switching to both Geology and Geography and found the two sciences endlessly fascinating.

"I loved it so much, I could see what I was learning in my world, every time I went outside, looked out my plane window, the world made more and more sense," she says.

Easily her favourite part of her studies was the opportunities to work closely with other students and the departments.

"Through field trips, lab work and lectures, I was able to develop friendships with my fellow classmates and lecturers. You were in a place where everyone around you wanted you to succeed and were just as passionate about the subject as you are."

"I love that I get to see what I learn around me every day; every rock, beach, river, and mountain I see has a story and I have gained the skills to understand that story."

Arriving at UC with a UC Merit Scholarship for her NCEA results, Rebekah spent her first year staying at Rochester and Rutherford campus accommodation. It was an experience which helped her settle into university life from the get-go alongside other students.

"It was so exciting meeting so many new people," she says. "Everyone was in the same place and you were taking the first steps at the same time. The staff there were also so supportive with both personal and academic issues."

UC’s community is definitely her favourite aspect of studying here. She has made the most of UC’s club environment, including UCSA events and helping with ticketing and first aid, and later becoming a regular with Rocksoc (Geology Society). As a fan of snowboarding in her spare time, her particular favourite event is JIB the Foundry through CUBA, where a snow ski ramp is built on campus.

"I enjoy the atmosphere on campus, people are friendly and inviting. The events and clubs on campus are wide ranging and cater for most types of people and they allow you to invest in hobbies and interests outside of your academic studies. Every staff member on campus I meet is friendly and wanting to help you succeed, it’s the best environment to learn in."

Rebekah is currently studying a Master of Disaster Risk and Resilience, which examines the risk factors from the environment towards disasters, and create strategies that can reduce their effects on communities through quick assessments and communication.

"Towards the end of my bachelor’s I realised I wanted to be able to share my passion with other people and to be able to help people to understand their world and how we can work around natural hazards. This led me to the master’s programme in Disaster Risk and Resilience," she says.

As part of her studies, Rebekah is currently taking part in an internship programme with the Canterbury Civil Defence Emergency Management Group, which she has thoroughly enjoyed getting to see and support preparation for real emergency scenarios.

Her project looks into case studies where natural processes and disasters are effecting local communities, and how involved in the decision making process these areas are during these types of disasters.

"Each day at the CDEM group offices is different! Some days I might be working on my project for the entire day. Other days I might be attended regional and national group meetings with my supervisor. I was also able to sit in on the Ministry of Civil Defence Exercise Tangaroa, where CDEM plans and prepares for national disasters."

The experience has definitely shaped her future plans contributing to disaster management.

"I would absolutely recommended to other students. You get to see how to use your skills you have learnt in the “real world” and what the skills are used for," she says. "One day my ultimate career goal would to be a Regional Controller for the Civil Defence Emergency Management team."

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