Finn Shewell, BA, majoring in Psychology. For commitment to furthering youth-led innovation in New Zealand.
“Learning through doing” – Finn says the opportunities Otago offered for students to give back to the community helped him build the foundations of both his work and social activism today.
What was your reaction to receiving the award, and what does it mean to you?
It's an honour to be part of the 2022 cohort for the Otago 20Twenties Awards - and it means even more knowing that this award is nominated by the peers I attended Otago with, many of whom are now lifelong friends.
What have you done since graduation?
Most of what I do revolves around helping people make sense of complexity - whether it's surrounding Tax for Sole Traders with Hnry, helping build world-class leaders across Aotearoa with Collective Intelligence, or empowering young people to tackle the most pressing social and environmental issues of our time with Social Change Collective.
What inspires and motivates you to work in the areas you are involved with?
Across everything it's seeing the human impact.
At Hnry we get people reaching out saying they've just about broken down trying to figure out their tax situation, and we've helped solve it for them after a five-minute sign-up process. The weight off their shoulders is huge - and it means they can spend even more time doing what they love.
With Collective Intelligence, we put people into multi-disciplinary teams, with each team meeting regularly throughout the year to go really deep into a challenge faced by one team member. That process is life-changing for just about everyone who goes through it - and having supported a bunch of those sessions, there's so much to be learned from helping others solve those challenges too. It's very much a case of the more you give, the more you get.
With Social Change Collective, we had an attendee from one of our Youth Governance Workshops become so inspired that he ran for local council in the last election cycle. We hosted him on a panel we ran for those elections, and he spoke so passionately and confidently about our city [Wellington] - it was amazing to see!
What were the highlights of your time at Otago, and has it helped or influenced you in your career and following your interests?
I like to say I learned the most at Otago outside of the classroom. Initiatives like The Social Impact Studio, Ignite Consultants, OUSA, and more provided opportunities to give back to the community that supported us as students - all while learning through doing. These initiatives all helped me build a strong foundation of human-centric skills to compliment my academic pursuits - and I find myself making use of those skills every day.
Otago offers amazing academic opportunities - but what really sets it apart on the world stage is the community that surrounds the Clocktower, and the opportunities to grow through giving back to that community. Ignite, The Social Impact Studio, OUSA - they're all student-led. There's something magic in that.