Mereana Latimer, DPH Student.
A number of poor health outcomes in her family were the impetus that drew Mereana into her studies. She wanted to help others by engineering cures to better treat illness, so – hoping to pursue a career in medical research – she initially completing an undergraduate degree in biomedical science. However during the course of her study she admits becoming increasingly frustrated with the limitations of such treatments.
"It became clear to me that the greatest gains in health could be made through disease prevention and control. Coming from a mixed background of Cook Island Māori, Pākehā and Māori descent, I have always been interested in identifying and addressing the differential determinants of health. The field of Public Health encompassed a number of my interests, and seemed to offer a great number of avenues through which to enact positive change."
Mereana is currently undertaking a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health (DPH), which really appealed to her as it provides a solid grounding for future work or study in the field.
"The short paper structure meant I was able to pursue a variety of interest papers, and the low contact hours make it easier to balance work with study. The University of Otago has provided me with an amazing learning environment, filled with passionate lecturers and students, and with many opportunities to engage with professionals working in the field."
In addition to her studies, Mereana is currently working part-time as a research assistant on projects that aim to address inequities in Māori respiratory health. Her future plans include continuing on to pursue a master's degree in Public Health. However her primary focus, once she has completed her DPH, is to take the skills she has learnt out into the workforce and make a difference, ensuring equitable health outcomes for future generations.