Darryl Pupi: Working for Pacific communities
20Twenties Young Alumni Award winner for his contribution to health and well-being through leadership and innovation of nutrition programmes. BSc Major Human Nutrition 2015.
What was your reaction to receiving the award, and what does it mean to you?
I was both really humbled and excited to be selected as the winner of Otago's first ever 2020 alumni awards. It really acknowledges not just myself but the mentoring and guidance of those before me and those that were with me in delivering great work to make a difference in the community.
What have you done since graduation and what are you doing now?
I have been working at the Ministry of Health Samoa for almost five years. This is where I got to be amongst the people who work with the motto ''For God and For Country'', which simply means to do it for your communities with guidance from the Lord.
In Samoa there has always been a lack of resources but working amongst people who go an extra mile just to put a smile, or in this case “A Healthy Smile”, on people's faces makes work a blessing every day.
At the end of 2019, I was contracted by the United Nations to carry out nutrition consultancy work. I was blessed to be working in the atoll islands of Tokelau carrying out nutrition workshops.
However, at the same time my home country faced another great catastrophe with the measles epidemic. This is where my line of work in nutrition was very important as we promote messages such as eating for a healthy immune system.
In the beginning of this year, I was blessed again to be a recipient of a New Zealand Agency for International Development scholarship to undertake master's studies. Now that I am back at Otago, memories of being an undergrad student come flooding in. I can vividly remember as an undergraduate student seeking to find a place in the world, a future for myself, and now that I am back to do my master's degree I seek to study for the future of Samoa.
I am studying for a Master of Nutrition and Public Health and I love every moment, including the knowledge shared by world-class teaching staff at the University, and the support from different University departments and the local Pacific community.
What inspires and motivates you to work in the areas you are involved with?
The sole understanding that the work I do will benefit my community.
What were the highlights of your time at Otago?
For a kid born and raised in the Pacific Islands, my highlight, to be honest, would be the day that I first saw snow. It was actually hail but the excitement that overtook me was the highlight being at Otago. I can assure you that I didn't really like the freezing nights, but I value the warmth of the lifelong network of friendships made at University. They have influenced me and once we started working they have influenced me more, as they strive hard in their own respective disciplines.