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Hanna Friedlander is the OUSA postgraduate representative for 2024.

Newly elected OUSA postgraduate representative for 2024 Hanna Friedlander would like to see students taking a more holistic approach to their postgraduate life.

Friedlander arrived in Aotearoa New Zealand from the United States to do her honours degree in neuroscience. She will start her PhD at the end of this year.

Hearing Dr Meg Spriggs speak at a conference advocating for a wellness-oriented postgraduate academic space inspired Friedlander to apply for the role at OUSA and start that conversation at Otago.

She would like to see peer mentorship system implemented.

Friedlander was a member of the Otago Postgraduate Association (OPA) executive in 2023. Becoming OUSA’s postgraduate representative automatically makes her president of OPA for 2024, and she wants to use her platform to further raise the profile of OPA.

“I think we have a role as a club to be building that postgrad community.”

Building community in the academic world is a “big challenge”, she acknowledges. Many postgrads, postdoctoral and early career researchers can feel isolated, especially if their role exists for as long as there is funding for the project. Currently anyone holding a postdoctoral role is not considered a part of the postgraduate system, but this is something Friedlander and OPA would like to change, Friedlander says.

She would like to create a space where they can all come together, saying it’s important to talk about this. OPA can give students an opportunity to meet people and form interdisciplinary connections, she says.

Friedlander is also keen on raising the profile of Otago University as an attractive place for postgraduate students. She has spoken with many third-year students who “have no idea what they’re doing next year” and are interested in research but are unsure of how to apply, especially as it can be different from one department to another.

She would like to establish an event whereby department representatives would have the chance to speak to potential postgraduate students and outline what is needed for their department.

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