'The University has been hugely supportive, helping me to travel...'
Kaiako, Haeata Community Campus
‘Follow what you are passionate about. Overlook what other people say about income and job availability, and follow what drives you. Your enthusiasm motivates you to have an influential impact within your chosen field.’
This is Mark’s advice to those considering their options for postgraduate study. Shortly after completing a Master of Health Sciences focusing on men’s health, Mark went on to manage Ara’s The Zone: Sports Science and Wellness Centre.
‘I looked at technology-assisted interventions such as the internet and texting to support men, especially fathers, to improve their health, and also the current state of health education within secondary schools,’ he explains.
He says his motivation to contribute to improving health education was simple: ‘What could be more important or relevant than gaining understanding and knowledge which will enable and support people to make choices that will lead to a longer and healthier life? That’s a pretty satisfying feeling.’
Mark’s passion and commitment to improving the health of others saw him win a scholarship to do postgraduate research at Oxford University. ‘My scholarship helped me gain an understanding of England’s historical health inequalities and the sociology behind health and illness, which has in turn been beneficial in understanding the current barriers in New Zealand’s health systems.’
Why choose UC? ‘Apart from Canterbury’s sporting prestige, I was left impressed from the open days at UC. Coming from Nelson, I thought it provided facilities and lectures that suited an adolescent from a small city, and it was not intimidating, unlike other universities.’
Mark says that the nature of the support shown by the University and its staff has also been a good fit for him.
‘The University has been hugely supportive, helping me to travel all around New Zealand and the world to further my education. I’ve been to Thames and Nelson for teaching placements, Auckland for a digital technology conference and of course Oxford University in England to further my postgraduate research.
‘Most of the lecturers know who you are, what your interests are and look at ways to help you to achieve your goals. I’m truly thankful to the University for helping me grow into who I am today.’
After his role with Ara, Mark went on a world OE, and returned to New Zealand with a role as Kaiako (teacher) at Haeata Community Campus in Christchurch. He primarily teaches years 11–13 (NCEA levels 1–3).
‘I get the chance to incorporate my health background within my teaching, for example analysing New Zealand health issues, and looking at ways to improve well-being.’