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Ulalei Aiono

3rd Year Student 2015

What made you decide to do Pharmacy?

My cousin in Samoa, is a pharmacist who did her training here at the University of Otago. She is young, successful, and always spoke highly of her experience here and how passionate she was for not only pharmacy but also for Pacific health. She is definitely a role model to not only myself but my siblings. I worked part-time at her pharmacy during every school holiday since high school and I developed a passion for helping people—and for pharmacy.

What did you know about Pharmacy before you started your BPharm?

I knew quite a bit about Pharmacy due to all the experience I had working over the holidays, but only in Samoa. It's a lot more complicated here in New Zealand with how tightly regulated medicines are and its high standards in comparison to Samoa.

Where do you hope a career in Pharmacy will take you?

I am hoping to go back to Samoa to serve my scholarship bond and hopefully become a link between the School of Pharmacy (Otago) and students in Samoa who are eager to become future pharmacists.

Why did you choose Otago?

Fortunately, I earned an NZAID Scholarship to study here in New Zealand and Otago was one of the top school for studying the Health Sciences so I thought why not? My older brother and many ex-Otago students spoke very highly of their experience and time at Otago. After three years here, I wouldn’t be happier studying anywhere else.

What is/are the best thing(s) about being a Pharmacy student at Otago?

They offer the best student support—especially for Pacific students. There are not many Pacific students studying Pharmacy and I'm proud to be one of the few. There needs to be more though, to cater for our increasing Pacific population here in New Zealand but also the islands. Dunedin is such a student-oriented city and it welcomed me with open arms (despite the weather sometimes).

Do you have any plans for you internship?

I am planning on living in Samoa and practice there. I will definitely register in New Zealand but I'll live and develop my career in the islands. It couldn’t hurt to register here. I may return to work here in the future—I'll never know.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

I was born in New Zealand but lived in Samoa my whole life. I am the second eldest of five—having three younger sisters and an older brother. My father owns a plantation back in the islands and my mother is a lawyer. One thing my parents have always instilled into us is to love God and the importance of getting a good education.