Twin graduates driven to serve community through active transport

12 December 2022

Twin students Alyssa and Breanna Greaney are graduating from Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | the University of Canterbury this month with different degrees but a shared desire to serve their community.

  • UC Twin graduates

    Twins Breanna (front) and Alyssa Greaney are graduating this month with different degrees but a shared desire to serve their community.

SDG 4

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4: Quality Education

Alyssa will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Japanese and Geography while Breanna will graduate with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Geography and Environmental Science.

Breanna says she chose to study geography, environmental science and political science because these provided the skills to make positive change in her community. “These subjects gave me a wide range of knowledge and exposure to different perspectives on how our world works, how we are impacting our environment, and how decisions are made.”

A highlight for both students was the Geography Resilient Communities fieldtrips that enabled them to become immersed in the local community.  Breanna worked with local food provider Toha Kai to investigate an electric trike’s social, environmental and economic viability. Alyssa worked with Te Kōhaka o Tūhaitara Trust to find out how to enhance communication and community engagement within the Tūhaitara Coastal Park.

“These were really interesting projects because they allowed us to work with real-life challenges in the community and work with a variety of stakeholders,” says Breanna. “After finishing the course, Alyssa and I were inspired to make a difference in our community and motivated to improve the lives of others through active transport.”

Both students were involved in extra-curricular activities at UC, including the Student Volunteer Army (SVA) Executive. Breanna was also the 2022 President and Founder of UC Parkour.

“I am very proud of the work we achieved through the SVA,” says Alyssa. “This year, we took 80 students to Ōamaru and Kaikōura to volunteer in these communities.

“We also had a goal of decolonising the club. With the help of Te Akatoki (UC Māori Students’ Association), we incorporated te reo Māori and helped align our marketing to te ao Māori worldview. This was through communicating the whakapapa, kaupapa, mahi and impact that our community partners have. This encouraged more meaningful engagement with the community and enhanced the meaning attributed to volunteer work for volunteers.”

In 2023 the twins will part ways, with Alyssa becoming a transport planner at engineering consultancy Beca in Tauranga and Breanna heading to Wellington Te Whanganui-a-Tara to work for Waka Kotahi (New Zealand Transport Agency).

“Our studies have inspired us to make a difference in our community and motivated us to improve the lives of others through active transport,” says Alyssa. “Transportation holds an important role in making sure people of all kinds can participate in a place and provide benefits such as accessibility, positive outcomes for mental and physical health and wellbeing, and a positive impact on the environment. I think that no matter what we go on to do, we want it to be in service to our community.”

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