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Meet some of our Pacific Alumni from the University of Otago

Division of Sciences

Patila Malua Amosa bio photo_webDr Patila Malua Amosa - PhD in Science (Samoan)

Dr Patila Malua Amosa completed her Doctor of Philosophy in February 2015 and she graduated in May 2015. “I love Otago,” she says. “I had a great experience here during my master’s study and that continues today. It can be difficult to transition from full-time work to full-time study, but the staff here are very welcoming and helpful.”

Read Dr Patila Amosa's story

Mitch Zandstra_2016Mitch Zandstra - Graduated with a Bachelor of Physical Education in May 2015 (Tahitian)

Mitch visited his sister Mikayla (above) when she was studying in Dunedin and was instantly knew he too wanted to study here.

Mitch is currently teaching at his old school, Tauranga Boys College.

"Having professional relationships with your lecturers is important because they are just as interested in your learning as you are."

Read how Mitch found living and studying in Dunedin at the University of Otago (PDF, 194 KB)

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Division of Health Sciences

Dr Jesse Kokaua Postgraduate Prospectus_2016Dr Jesse Kokaua - PhD in Public Health (Cook Island Māori)

Dr Jesse Kokaua completed his PhD in Public Health in May 2014 and went on to graduate in December 2015. His thesis looked at the prevalence of mental health disorders, what services are available, and whether Cook Islanders living in New Zealand who need those services are accessing them.

Dr Jesse Kokaua currently works as a Research Fellow in the University of Otago's Health Sciences Division Pacific Islands Research and Student Support Unit (PIRSSU) and for the Pacific Development Office.

Read Dr Jesse Kokaua's story (PDF format, 573 KB)

Dr Xaviour WalkerDr Xaviour Walker - Otago Medical School Graduate (Tongan)

Dr Xaviour Walker graduated from the Otago Medical School in 2016. "Working in the region and subsequently attending conferences on health in the Pacific, had added to Dr Walker's appreciation of its cultures and communities, and his own Tongan heritage"

Read Dr Xaviour Walker's story (PDF format, 98 KB)

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Division of Humanities

Georgie Archibald bio photo original_March 2015Georgie Archibald - BA (Hons), LLB (Otago) (Tongan)

Georgie Archibald graduated from the University of Otago in 2013 with a double degree. Georgie is currently residing in the United States of America, where she is studying towards a Master in Arts in English Literature at the University of Colorado Boulder on a Fulbright award.

"I’ve always loved studying English Literature, and thought that combining it with Law would result in strong reading, writing, and communication skills that would be transferable across a number of careers."

Read what Georgie remembers most about her graduation day (PDF format, 202 KB) 

Mikayla Zandstra bio with her degree in handMikayla Zandstra - Graduated in May 2015 with a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts (Tahitian)

Mikayla Zandstra graduated with her double degree in May 2015 - she loved Economics at school so choose to couple this subject with her law degree.

Mikayla is currently working as a commercial property solicitor in Auckland.

"Enjoy lectures, take some papers ‘just because they interest you’ this will make your time more enjoyable, ask for help because someone will be able to help you, keep your head up and be proud no matter what grades you get, because some papers can be hard and even passing a paper is an awesome achievement!"

Read more about Mikayla's academic journey at Otago University  (PDF Format, 201 KB)

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Division of Commerce


Sebastian Tasi graduation pic outside Town Hall_2Sebastian Tasi - Graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Commerce (Samoan)

In 2010 Sebastian Tasi embarked upon his academic journey by enrolling in Foundation Year.

By 2014 Sebastian had graduated from the University of Otago with a double degree, majoring in Communication Studies (BA) and Marketing Management (BCom).

Sebastian is currently working for an advertising agency in Australia where he is gaining invaluable work experience.

Read how Foundation Year prepared Sebastian for university life (PDF format, 192 KB)

Bio photo of Hans To'o_April 2015_webHans To'o - Graduated in 2016 with a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Laws (Samoan)

Hans To'o graduated with his double degree in May 2016 - degrees he chose for two very different reasons.

"Throughout secondary school, I had long anticipated staying at home for study, but I had visited Otago in 2009 for a Pacific Island students’ On Campus Experience where I got to witness the student-focused culture and the awesome lifestyle that the University and its Halls of Residence had to offer."

Read what advice Hans gives to new students (PDF format, 210 KB)

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Alumni News and Events

otago692005Fiji alumni event June 2018

New Zealand High Commissioner to Fiji Jonathan Curr warmly welcomed about 200 alumni and guests to his residence in Suva on 28 June.

Read the full story here and see the photo board.

A warm Pacific greeting

alumni Samoa ChapterThe announcement of a new chapter in the relationship between the University of Otago, its Pacific alumni and the Pacific region received a warm welcome in Samoa.

Read more about the launch of the University of Otago Samoan Alumni Chapter

"Be awesome" new Samoa alumni chapter board told (5 April 2018)

Alumni Samoa Event 5 April 2018At an event in Apia on 5 April the long-serving Samoan politician and proud Otago alumnus encouraged inaugural executive members to be daring in leadership and planning decisions for the Chapter in future.

See photos and read more about the event held in Apia