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Monday, 14 June 2021

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At only 21 Sunaina has a wealth of experience to fuel her passion for her future career which she believes could be as a sex educator.

Making the knowledge we have accessible to all people can be life changing.

That's exactly what Sunaina Born has in mind for her future. The Bachelor of Science and Arts (Genetics and Philosophy) student is currently completing papers in Science Communication as part of her studies.

“I grew up in Alexandra with a love of acting. I moved to Vancouver for a year where I did my acting diploma. I've always loved both science and acting and I wanted to know how I could facilitate both in my career. Science Communication at Otago made sense.”

At only 21 Sunaina has a wealth of experience to fuel her passion for her future career which she believes could be as a sex educator.

“I spent six months in Ghana as a volunteer and while I was there I realised how different the western world is for women and sexual health. In Ghana there was no contraception for women and if a young woman got pregnant she would be banished from her village. In saying that, while contraception for women is available in New Zealand and has give us more control over our bodies, we still have a lot of work to do.”

Sunaina says she can see how New Zealand is far ahead in many things in the world but sex education itself is not one of those things. Her Science Communication training could help her make a difference there.

“Science Communication is about finding a medium to introduce scientific knowledge to all people: this can be through journalism, writing books for kids, making documentaries and films.”

“We already see a lot of positive representation of men and sex in the media but there's a lot less positive discussion around women and sex.”

“My mum was a sexual health doctor so I grew up being unafraid to ask questions and with a good understanding of sex. I can see for many people in my generation though that isn't the case. Lots of them are embarrassed by what they don't know and this gets in the way of learning more about a subject we shouldn't be ashamed of.”

“The problem is schools are told to teach 'some kind of' sex education but they're not regulated on what they should teach or how they should teach it. Things such as LGBTQIA+ sexual education is also relatively new to schools but is so important. If we have public education then we can have a standard for sex education.”

Sunaina said growing up in a rural town herself she has been aware of the fact some general practitioners don't always provide contraception, or at least a discussion around contraception options, as part of their care.

“For some people it's due to religious beliefs or moral standing but when you're in a small town if your sole health care provider doesn't give you options to stay safe it can cause issues. New Zealand has regulations which allow doctors to morally object to providing contraception but as we know not talking about sex won't stop it from happening.”

Recently Sunaina took some new papers which she believes will help her influence the changes that need to happen with sex education regulations in New Zealand.

“I took a new paper which I absolutely loved. The SCOM209 paper is an introduction to Science Communication and covers three different assignments in writing biographies, presentations and creating documentaries.”

“The third project was my favourite. We made a documentary on a topic of our choosing. We learned about different shots, editing and film equipment. We did this during lockdown so I did a kids video on making an ocean in a bottle, where we could talk about densities in a fun and educational way.”

“These are really important skills to have today. I always loved acting but I want to use my skills to do something I can have more control over and on topics with purpose. Producing content that can tell people's stories from an angle I am passionate about makes sense to me and it's how our generation communicates so it can make a difference.”

Sunaina has a regular show on Radio One where she discusses her views on the science world and looks forward to producing more creative content in the future that will spark enlightening and important conversations.

Kōrero by Internal Communications Adviser, Chelsea McRae

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