'UC has also very approachable lecturers who are known experts in their field...'
Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Political Science
Master of Arts in Political Science
Project Officer, Save the Children Philippines
When Meikko came to UC from the Philippines to study Political Science, he had the idea that it would lead him directly into a career in government. However, he now says the subject offers far more options and has helped him decide which path he wants to take.
‘It makes you think about the things happening in daily life and how the world is moving,’ he says.
‘Through one of my honours courses, International Human Rights, I became more aware of the different abuses and violations of rights happening in the world today. I came to realise that I want to work with an intergovernmental organisation whose focus is protecting the rights and welfare of children. A humanitarian role with UNICEF, or any international child rights advocate organisation would probably the best job I could do in my life. It will require not just my theoretical understanding of the world but advanced critical and analytical skills, hence I believe that pursuing an MA in Political Science will equip me further to get the career that I am hoping for.’
Back home, Meikko was a social sciences lecturer, and he was also deeply involved with voluntary work in youth development. He was selected to represent the Philippines on the Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Program (SSEAYP) which involved workshops to discuss social issues from a global perspective.
‘SSEAYP fostered my spirit of international cooperation,' he says. 'Then, through an NZ-ASEAN Scholar Award, I came here to study Political Science to learn new perspectives about creating greater international social cohesion as a tool for genuine lasting global peace.’
Meikko managed to balance his hard work with a busy life outside study.
'At UC you can go to the Recreation Centre or take a refreshing walk in the nearby Ilam Gardens should you need a break. During the week I'd go to social events on campus such as Christian Lifegroup gatherings. At weekends, I usually went to Christchurch’s beautiful parks or went swimming at the nearest recreational centre.’
Meikko has a strong interest in photography and hiking, and so New Zealand was the perfect place to combine the two.
'New Zealand’s scenic landscapes, from its seas to its mountains, provide a magnificent subject for a shutterbug like me. So when I went for a weekend tramping with friends, or if there was an interesting event happening in the city, I always took my camera.'
He adds that coming to UC has made him a lot of good friends and acquaintances.
'Generally, my experience there as an international student was great. The University of Canterbury’s warm welcome during the opening of the semester helped me adjust to my life there and meet my new friends. UC has also very approachable lecturers who are known experts on their field, and as well as very supportive staff.'
Meikko says the academic and social balance at UC was a successful combination, and with his newfound career focus he decided to stay on and take a master's degree in Political Science.
'For my master’s thesis project I studied the conditions of Children in Conflict with the Law (CICL) or juvenile delinquents in the Philippines, especially the discrepancies between the laws and guidelines that were designed to protect the rights of CICL and the reality.’
He adds that studying towards a master's by thesis can be a challenge, but is very rewarding as long as you have the right amount of passion for your research.
‘Since you’re only dealing with your thesis and no coursework, it needs a great amount of self-discipline, and there are times when your eagerness for your chosen topic will be tested. But keep focused and you'll continue having that burning academic passion of learning something new and useful in the process.'
After graduating, Meikko was able to immediately launch into a career supporting children’s rights and welfare, with work as a Communications Officer at Save the Children Philippines. After almost a year in the role, Meikko then became a Project Officer, and is currently working on a project called “Strengthening Child-Centred Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Response”.
‘We work to ensure the protection of children from violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation before, during, and after disaster events and other emergency situations,’ he says. ‘With this project, we work directly with local government authorities and children, and do advocacy works to ensure the localisation of the Philippines' Children in Emergency Act.’
Having found his calling in life, Meikko is thankful for his time at UC.
‘I am definitely glad of what UC had contributed to where I am now, particularly of the career path I am currently taking. Apart from the academic learning, UC had made me realised on what I wanted to do as a career – that is, to do child-rights based humanitarian work – which is absolutely what I am currently doing now.’