When Deirdre Anderson tells people she's doing a physical education degree they tend to assume she plans to become a teacher.
But Deirdre decided at high school in Nelson that she wanted to be a sports scientist, and now she's doing honours in Sport and Exercise Science.
“My main area of interest is exercise physiology, which combines my love of science and physical activity,” she says.
“Now I'm researching how heat might be used to enhance long-term muscle adaptation and recovery. After this I hope to go on to postgraduate study, and maybe work with elite athletes and find ways of helping them become faster and stronger.”
Deirdre understands sport. As a youngster growing up in Hong Kong and the Philippines with her travelling South African family, she tried soccer, dance and competitive swimming. In Dunedin she plays netball in the local premier grade and has represented Otago at a national level in athletics as a 100-metre hurdler.
She also understands science, winning the top scholar award for the NCEA science scholarship exam and gaining a Frontiers of Science scholarship from Otago.
“Otago really is the only place to study Phys Ed,” she says. “The first two years were amazing – experiencing all the different sides of it with the core papers, and the staff are available all the time and are so helpful.”
Deirdre now assists new students with their learning as part of Otago's peer assisted study sessions (PASS) at the Student Learning Centre.
“It's really helped with my communication skills – and I get to experience other elements of the University.
“The student social life also offers lots of opportunities to explore as long as you don't overdo it — I tell my first year students it's important to find a balance between study and making the most of your student experience.”