Regional Refugee Community Health Worker, Auckland District Health Board
Master of Public Health (First Class Honours)
Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health
Bachelor of Health Science in Psychology and Health Promotion
Her passion for public health started when she was a teenager, says AUT alumna Ayan Said who now works as a refugee community health worker.
“I was 18 when I first heard about the issue of Female Genital Mutilation. I was introduced to the topic as my mother was working on a research project on the issue. As I was reading the research on Female Genital Mutilation in New Zealand, my interest grew and I’ve been working with the Female Genital Mutilation education programme for the last seven years.
“For my Master of Public Health research project, I focused on stories of women living with Female Genital Mutilation in Auckland, trying to capture the strategies they propose for addressing the issue. I particularly focused on the Somali, Eritrean, Indonesian and Kurdish communities. This study is very much influenced by my upbringing and cultural background,” says Ayan who was born in Somalia, which has one of the highest rates of Female Genital Mutilation in the world.
The tools to make a difference
With her interest in health promotion and health education, the Master of Public Health was an obvious choice for her postgraduate study, Ayan says.
“I completed my Bachelor of Health Science, and when I came across the Master of Public Health I knew immediately this was the right programme for me. I have a strong interest in refugee health, health and international policy, human rights, health equity, women’s health, health promotion, preventative health, and health literacy. I could see that this programme would enable me to learn about the multiple aspects of public health.”
She would highly recommend the programme to others, Ayan says.
“I would absolutely recommend the Master of Public Health. The lecturers are passionate about what they teach, and you get to explore the topics you’re passionate about.”
There have been many highlights throughout her studies, says Ayan.
“There are so many things that stand out for me – from the workplace experience as part of my degree to receiving the AUT Summer Research Award, which enabled me to get involved in research on social movements and charismatic leadership, and women’s health in refugee and migrant communities in New Zealand.
“I’m so glad that I decided to study at AUT. There are so many things that make it a great university – a world-class education, amazing lecturers with expert knowledge of their field, outstanding learning spaces and lots of opportunities to socialise on campus.”