3rd-year student, Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sciences
She chose to study environmental sciences because she has loved nature ever since she was a child, says Cecilia Mimi Lay who came to AUT from Timor-Leste, supported by a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade New Zealand – Manaaki New Zealand Scholarship.
“I’ve always been curious about animals’ interactions and about how plants differ from each other. So, a year after high school, I decided to study environmental sciences in New Zealand to gain the skills and knowledge to protect my country’s biodiversity and solve environmental issues like pollution.
“I’d love to be involved in environmental management and protection, and contribute to the development of my home country by continuing the current research on conservation and sustainability.”
Collaboration is important to protect the environment, she says.
“I’m looking forward to working with government institutions and non-government organisations to create a clean and healthy environment while working closely with local communities in Timor-Leste. I believe that working together with local communities and people from different backgrounds will provide socially just and ecologically effective outcomes to local environmental issues.”
The right choice
She would highly recommend the Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sciences, Cecilia says.
“If you’re interested in nature, I strongly recommend studying environmental science as it offers multidisciplinary subjects to help us understand the importance of the environment from different points of view. There are many options within this field and a lot of flexibility for future careers.
“I’ve really enjoyed the field trips, which are the practical component of this degree, especially as they give me a chance to visit more beautiful places in New Zealand. The lecturers have inspired me and their stories remind me of why I chose environmental sciences. I’ve particularly enjoyed the socio-ecological course – it truly opened my mind and reminded me to also consider social, cultural and economic points of view.”
Studying during a global pandemic has had its challenges, she admits.
“The first pandemic lockdown in New Zealand in 2020 was the biggest challenge for me, as I could no longer come to the AUT campus to study. AUT had been my second home in New Zealand. Although I wasn’t able to go to campus during the lockdown, AUT supported me by providing online services, free counselling, and online peer mentors.”
Advice for other students
Now in the final semester of her studies, Cecilia has some great advice for other students.
“My advice would be to believe in yourself and step out of your comfort zone by trying new things and avoiding saying no to new opportunities. There are heaps of services that AUT offers to help us achieve our academic, spiritual and social life goals. So, step out and make friends and connections to help you improve yourself.”
Her other piece of advice is simple: never be afraid to ask.
“Don’t be too afraid or too shy to ask questions or ask for help because AUT has a diverse and friendly environment to support you.”