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Tevita Vaipuna thumbnail 2019

Pacific Heritage: Tongan

Currently Studying: Bachelor of Medical Science with Honours; and a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery

My name is Tevita Fe'aomoelotu Wilson Vaipuna. My dad is from Kolofo'ou, Tonga. My mum grew up in New Zealand and Canada, and has Dutch, Scottish, and Irish ancestry. I am one of six siblings and grew up around a couple of small towns in South Taranaki: Hāwera and Pātea.

I didn't come to university intending to do medicine. I started the Health Sciences First Year with an open mind, only knowing that I was interested in science and wanted to make a positive difference for people. However, a mentor in medicine told me about the course and his journey, which influenced me to aim to pursue it. That, and getting in seemed like a difficult and prestigious challenge to achieve!

I am currently about to start my 5th year (out of 6) of the MBChB degree. Between 3rd and 4th year, I took an extra year to undergo a BMedSc (Hons), an extra degree that involved writing a thesis on a research topic. My topic was Sleep in Pasifika Adolescents, in which I interviewed Pasifika adolescents on factors that were detrimental or beneficial to their sleep. I have also done a few summer research projects throughout my university journey. I really enjoy research, I believe it is an important part of understanding and furthering medicine.

My favourite thing about medicine is connecting with people about their journeys and being in the privileged and private space of their health, as well as learning from the wide range of healthcare workers that help them to live their lives healthier and happier. I also enjoy learning about the science of how the body works in health and disease, and all the broad influences on an individual's and population's health.

For those who want to enter university, my advice is to keep your mind open to all the opportunities you have and prepare yourself for a different and more independent lifestyle. Also apply for every scholarship that you are eligible for! If you are thinking about medicine, be aware that as a career it is a serious commitment. Be sure of yourself and the reasons why you want to be a practitioner, because these will get you through the hard times.

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