Faculty for Academic Studentship: Design and Creative Technologies (Art & Design)
Role: Academic Support - Tutor
Ethnic Origin: Samoan, Fijian/Indian
Students studying Spatial Design shouldn’t be surprised if tutor Benita Kumar asks them about their life outside of University. Providing an environment of holistic support is a key part of the 21 year old's teaching strategy. Kumar acknowledges that her culture, along with her background as a Student Support mentor, affects the way in which she interacts with students.
“I have a holistic strategy in approaching our students, especially Pasifika students… it’s an ethic of how we communicate with one another, and understanding different cultural values”
Currently undertaking an academic studentship within the Faculty of Art and Design (Spatial Design), Kumar works as a tutor on spatial design studio papers. Her role entails providing guidance and support to students during 2-3 hour work sessions, 3 times a week.
Juggling the academic studentship with her own Honors studies has been challenging, admits Kumar, but acknowledges the Maori and Pasifika Wananga series and her family as being of great personal support. She is quick to express that studentship has been a positive experience, one that she hopes to continue next year.
“This studentship has provided me with so many opportunities, from networking with the professional work industry to gaining a position in an academic research group. The studentship has opened so many doors of opportunity, and being able to gain so much support and knowledge from other Maori and Pasifika students has been an added bonus.”
In terms of her academic future, Kumar hopes to go on to complete her Masters and PhD in Spatial Design, focusing on Pacific Studies.
“My aim is to contribute and add to the field of Indigenous studies in the School of Art and Design, to work with Pacific concepts and create awareness of the Maori and Oceanic Space cluster by recruiting more Maori and Pasifika students. Ultimately, I aim to do this by becoming a permanent member of the teaching staff, and by furthering my studies through PhD research upon the completion of the MA.”