Mena Welford | McCall MacBain Kupe Leadership Scholar

Master of Science (Biological Sciences)

Pasifika under-representation across STEM disciplines in New Zealand is devastatingly prevalent. Entering my sixth year at the university, my experiences only confirm our absences echo greatest at the highest levels of academia. Showcasing considerable drop-off between under- and post-graduate study. While contribution to visibility and promotion of inclusive learning environments where Pasifika students feel they can achieve, succeed, and deserve to do so, have been personal focuses to combat these losses, substantially more must be done to transform this narrative.

Fortunate to be working in the marine space, combining a fascination for life in our oceans with a strong desire to lead collaborative, solution-based research; this year marks a particularly unique opportunity for growth. One of the most empowering tools at my disposal is owning my vulnerability to push for meaningful, multidisciplinary connections; hopefully forging impactful initiatives that enhance future Pasifika excellence in STEM pathways.

Sponsor: McCall MacBain Foundation

Mentor: Dr Audrey Aumua, CEO Fred Hollows Foundation, The Pacific Community's former Deputy Director General, WHO representative, former Ministry of Health Chief Advisor for the Pacific.