AUT student and alumni on 2023 Y25 list

26 Jul, 2023
AUT student and alumni on 2023 Y25 list
Illustration by Pounamu Wharekawa

Two AUT alumni and a current honours student are amongst the 25 trailblazers selected for this year’s Y25 List which celebrates talented young women who are leaders in their fields.

In its fourth year, the Y25 programme highlights trailblazers from all over Aotearoa, and brings them together to connect with each other, and have access to support and networking opportunities from YWCA Tāmaki Makaurau.

As a sponsor of the Y25, AUT is delighted architectural engineering honours student Zina Abu Ali, Bachelor of Education alumna Mary-Lynn Huxford, and Bachelor of Business alumna Sarah Kelsey, are part of the 2023 List.

Developed by the YWCA (the Y), the nation-wide search and nomination process produces an inspiring list of community leaders, social entrepreneurs, artists, poets, environmentalists, activists and changemakers working well above their years and peers.

YWCA Tāmaki Makaurau CEO, Dellwyn Stuart says, “The Y works to make space for these young people to speak their truths, and to create networks and opportunities for them to be seen and heard. They in turn are inspiring role models showing that success in Aotearoa has many faces. Many of these young women are rejecting the status quo and doing the hard work and smart thinking to make real change happen,” she says.

Zina Abu Ali

AUT honours student Zina is a Queer Youth Advocate, is Vice-President of the AUT Student Association (AUTSA), a human rights activist, writer and piano teacher specialising in teaching children with learning difficulties. She is passionate about indigenous architecture and sustainable construction.  Her work on Aboriginal modular architecture was nominated as one of the top 10 projects for Engineers without borders.

Commenting on her latest Y25 achievement Zina says, “I have always been surrounded and mentored by incredible wāhine. Many of which I have met at AUT. I was just so incredibly grateful for all those wāhine when I got the call about being part of the Y25 List”.

Mary-Lynn Huxford

AUT alumna Mary-Lynn is now the National Care-Experienced Youth Participation Advisor at Voice of the Young and Care Experienced (VOYCE), helping rangatahi atawhai on their advocacy journey. This dedicated, compassionate wahine enjoys engaging with politicians at a legislative level, and everything she does is for the 4500-6000 Kiwi kids currently in the system.

Sarah Kelsey

Fellow alumna Sarah Kelsey is a Finance People Weaver and Podcaster who founded The OneUp Project in 2020 to tackle the lack of accessibility to financial education in Aotearoa. 180 episodes later, she has built up a brilliant community and is dedicated to discussing financial wellness and how to make life’s more complex topics easier to understand for everyone. OneUp’s kaupapa is centred around serving the community it’s built, helping listeners make better decisions relevant to their finances.

"To be recognised as a person making waves in a space they care so deeply about, is beyond exciting. I feel more than honoured to have been included amongst a group of unbelievable humans, all contributing to a much better world," says Sarah.

Senior Associate, YWCA Tāmaki Makaurau &Y25 Programme Kaitiaki, Latayvia Tualasea Tautai, says the Y25 are leaders of today and ancestors of tomorrow. “Trailblazers, cycle breakers, system changers, community connectors, advocate and champions. Many of whom grew up without seeing anyone who looked like them highlighted as leaders, now they are pillars and giants in their own communities that our tamariki can look to and feel hope.”

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