New Zealand born Niuean student Adrienne Hekau moved to Dunedin from Auckland in 2014 to take a Foundation Year at Otago.
"I felt it would be a good way to transition from high school / leaving home, to living in Dunedin and study at tertiary institution. I wasn't too strong with my NCEA chemistry subjects so I thought Foundation Year would be of great help."
Adrienne is studying a Bachelor of Oral Health (BOH) and hopes to complete this, and then apply to study a Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) as a postgraduate before returning to her hometown of South Auckland to work in her community. Becoming a Pacific health professional means she can assist in improving the health statistics of Pacific people.
She is enjoying the learning experience so far especially making new life long friends. In her journey she has learnt a lot about herself in how to balance study with church, part-time work, and personal interests.
"I feel the Pacific Foundation Programme definitely set a good foundation for my tertiary journey. The support I have received especially in my first two years has been helpful and something I am very grateful for."
Zebulun Laqekoro is a local Dunedin student with a Fijian background. Zeb is in his fourth year of study towards a Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS).
"Coming out of school I knew that I wasn’t ready to successfully complete Health Science First Year. I had poor study habits, no drive, and didn't believe in myself. A friend of mine did Foundation Year and said it was the best decision he made and said it was like a second chance for him. This was my second chance, to make up for laziness and poor habits at high school. A clean slate to try and achieve my goal of entering the Faculty of Dentistry. I was privileged to be accepted into the Pacific Foundation Programme and I haven't looked back. I have been so blessed by this programme as it was the main reason for my success at University."
Zebulun was part of the PFP cohort in its pilot year and found PFP beneficial because he was exposed to a great study environment with people who had similar goals as he did. As part of the programme he learnt a lot of information about the Health Science First Year course and health professionals at Otago.
Zebulun would recommend Foundation Year to other Pacific students as it helped him prepare for his first year of university.
"In my case I needed to cover my science background better and develop study habits that were appropriate for Health Sciences First Year. Throughout the year I developed into a good student and had a lot of fun with all the other scarfies.
"I am enjoying my time at University and meeting exciting new people. Dentistry is a difficult course but it challenges me and I enjoy that aspect about it. Five years ago I would not have thought I would be in such a privileged position and it is all thanks to the Pacific Foundation Programme!"
Reupena Simanu is currently studying towards a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MB ChB) medical degree, and decided to take a Foundation Year in 2013 before applying for the Health Science First Year programme at Otago. Reupena was a high achiever at school but knew that he needed to be confident in the science subjects before tackling Health Science First Year.
This Samoan student from Auckland says the rewards you get from hard work is what he has enjoyed most about his journey.
"HSFY (Health Science First Year) was probably the hardest year I've had in terms of workload and mental stress, but getting into Medicine was one of the best feelings ever. The people you meet and the content, we learn about some pretty amazing things."