Category Archives: Student contributors

Blogs written by UC students.

New Zealander of the Year Awards

Our Thursday’s in Black President Kaitlyn White has just been recognised by the Kiwibank Local Hero award as someone who’s selflessness and determination has made a difference in the community.

It provides a special opportunity to all New Zealanders, who have witnessed or experienced the contributions made by this years medal recipients, to say thank you for doing what you do to make our communities better.

Kaitlyn, currently a fifth year student studying Law and Commerce, we  caught up with her to ask more about what has inspired her to get involved with Thursday’s is black:

How did you get inspired to get involved with Thursday’s in Black as well as the UCSA?

I set up the Thursdays in Black (TIB) movement on our campus in 2017 after hearing about the movement on some other campuses and recognising there was a need for TIB not just at UC but in our society.

Sexual violence is unfortunately everywhere in our society but due to a range of factors (moving away from home, first romantic experiences, young age) students are more likely to have experienced a form of sexual violence in their lives.

If we have conversations and run activities / campaigns about consent and what healthy relationships look like at an early stage, everyone can help combat sexual violence and make a positive change in society.

I think we’ve all got a role to play in spreading consent culture in our communities. 

What has been your favourite moment this year?

That’s a hard one to choose! A recent favourite moment was when Thursdays in Black managed to host Jan Logie MP, the Parliamentary Undersecretary on sexual and domestic violence for a speaker series event with UCPols.

The room was packed with people and it was great to see so many students give up their afternoon to hear about her work and to ask what they can do to help solve these issues.

I also noticed that a few people stuck around to have a quiet word with Jan to get advice on situations regarding friends or family, so I’m glad that was able to happen and that she could give advice due to her role at Parliament and previous experience working at Women’s Refuge.

Do you have plans for next year?

I’ve got an internship at the US Congress in Washington DC over summer through an opportunity offered by the School of Law.  In March, I’m starting as a law clerk at Buddle Findlay in Christchurch

 

The regional judging for Kiwibank Local Hero medal recipients has been announced and Ngāi Tahu Research Centre at UC director Associate Professor Te Maire Tau and UCArts Political Scientist Associate Professor Bronwyn Hayward for winning Local Hero medals in the Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards, as well as UC student, UCSA returning officer and president of the  club Thursdays in Black Kaitlyn White.

There are 16 regional presentation ceremonies across New Zealand between mid-November and mid-December.

 

 

 

Rare genetic condition inspires fundraising effort by UC student

UC Doctoral student George Stilwell is running the 2018 Queenstown Half Marathon to raise awareness and funds for the NZ Williams Syndrome Association (NZWSA).

George’s connection to the rare genetic condition stems from his younger brother Henry, who has Williams syndrome. Henry was diagnosed with the condition when he was 18 months old in 2004. George and his family have been active members of the NZWSA since becoming members of the association 13 years ago in 2005.

The marathon in Queenstown will take place on 17 November. George has been training hard over the last two two months and has spent over 15 hours training  and run over 200km in preparation for the race. George aims to complete his first half marathon in under one hour and 35 minutes.

Williams syndrome is a rare genetic condition that is present at birth and affects 1 in 10,000 people worldwide. An estimated 200 people have the condition in New Zealand. The condition is caused by the deletion of genetic material from a specific region of chromosome 7. Williams syndrome is characterised by mild to moderate intellectual disability or learning problems, unique personality characteristics, distinctive facial features, and heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) problems. People with Williams syndrome are extremely social, friendly and endearing, they also often have a strong affinity to music.

George’s mother Christina is the National Co-ordinator for the association. To raise awareness about the condition, George has taken on a social media role for the NZWSA.

“Williams syndrome will always be close to my heart. As a sibling of someone with Williams syndrome camp is a great opportunity to give and receive advice, support and stories about our siblings,” he says

George believes it is important to raise awareness about the condition to help people in New Zealand embrace diversity. A lot can be learned from people with disabilities and the unique challenges they face. A greater awareness of the condition will also help people who have not been diagnosed a chance to be diagnosed and meet the rest of the Williams family. Early diagnosis is very helpful for parents when raising a child with Williams syndrome. Overall, a better awareness about Williams syndrome will help people to be more open and accepting of people with disabilities.

To raise awareness George has started posting weekly “Williams Syndrome Wednesday” posts. These posts give people with Williams syndrome to share a story about what it is like to have the condition. For parents of younger children with Williams syndrome, these posts show them that like anyone, people with the condition can live meaningful and successful lives. If you would like to check out these posts have a look at the NZ Williams Syndrome Instagram or Facebook page.

Every two years the NZWSA holds a national family camp. This is the primary ‘gathering’ for the group and is eagerly anticipated by the members of the association. The camps are greatly beneficial for people with Williams Syndrome, parents and siblings. Attendees of the camps get together with others who face the same challenges in life and to renew genuine friendships. Parents get the opportunity to learn more about Williams syndrome. International and domestic speakers discuss a variety of topics including health, education, relationships, genetics and available services. Siblings also gain from the camps. Being able to interact with their peers, they informally support each and share experiences of living with a disabled brother/sister. For some this may also be their main opportunity to socialise without being embarrassed of, or having to support, their sibling. As Henry put it, “Williams Syndrome Camp is awesome because I get to catch up with my friends, do fun activities and dance at the disco”.

The next camp is being held in January 2019 at the Living Springs Camp in Christchurch. The money raised through fundraising will go towards the costs associated with running the camp.

So far George has raised a total of $1630 for the NZWSA. If you would like to support George or learn more about what he is raising money for, please check out his give a little page.

https://givealittle.co.nz/fundraiser/help-george-raise-money-for-nz-williams-syndrome

Follow George’s progress:

To see how the race goes feel free follow George’s Instagram or running page on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/StilwellGeorge

https://www.instagram.com/george.stilwell/

To check out the Williams Syndrome Wednesday post, see the links below

https://www.instagram.com/williamssyndromenz/

https://www.facebook.com/WilliamsSyndromeNZ

Contact details for George

Email: g.stilwell@hotmail.com Ph: 0277473893 Insta @george.stilwell

Meet Bejen Patel…

Bejen Patel, BCom

  • Strong communicator
  • Innovative thinker

Bejen is a third year commerce student who’s been making the most of uni life and getting involved in extra activities. The experience and skills he’s gained through these activities will be captured on his Co-curricular Record (CCR). Here’s his story…

Back in 2016, my first year at UC, I signed up to be a Class Rep. At the same time I was asked if I wanted to sign up for CCR. As I found out more about CCR I thought it seemed like a good way to show the additional things I’ve done and skills I’ve learned while studying. And I was signing up to be a Class Rep anyway so I thought I might as well get recognition for it.

The Class Rep role can vary depending on the class. Basically if students have any problems or issues, or feedback for the lecturer – for example they can’t follow what the lecturer is saying or there’s something the lecturer has missed out – then they can come and talk to me. I can raise their concerns with the lecturer and then go back to the students on the outcome. Usually if one student is saying something’s happening, there’ll be a whole lot of other students thinking exactly the same thing.

The role, which I also did in second and third year, has definitely helped me to build strong communication skills and adapt my communication style when needed. When I’m talking to other students in my class I try to be more approachable and friendly, whereas when I’m approaching lecturers and heads of departments with feedback I’ve got to be more professional. I’ve got to know the lecturers quite well through the process and have formed good connections with them.

Just being able to talk to different people from different backgrounds, I’ve probably become more confident as a person. I definitely didn’t used to be as open with other people, but now I can easily go up and talk to someone.

I’ve also been involved with the Entre $85k Start-Up Challenge, which has taught me a lot about innovation, thinking outside of the box and being more adaptable and flexible. A few of us had an idea from a course we did last year to develop an app for students called ‘Study With Me’. We put that forward and have recently made it into the top 10 ventures.

We’ve talked to lots of business people and mentors, and have made connections and learned to network. The mentoring sessions have been really useful for building knowledge and skills that are really hard to get otherwise. You learn about how to take an idea and start your own business, market validation and things like that. It’s something you don’t learn in the classroom – it’s sort of like getting the real world experience before you get to the real world. 

There’s so many opportunities that you can take up UC. Doing extra activities – like being a Class Rep, doing the Entre $85k Start-Up Challenge, or being involved in a club – they all teach you skills you can use long-term. The CCR recognises your involvement in these activities and everything you’ve done is summed up and recorded in one place, which is quite useful when it comes to applying for a job. 

Interested in CCR?
Find out more at www.canterbury.ac.nz/ccr  
Visit UC Careers at Level 1, Geography building (next to Café 101)

Above: Bejen has been a Class Rep and participated in the Entre $85k Start-Up Challenge while studying commerce at UC.

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