Co-founder, Clean Plate
Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health student
Graduate Diploma in Health Science
Passionate about promoting healthy eating to children, Fern Pereira was drawn to AUT’s public health programmes.
“I’m a professional chef who has moved from hospitality to the early childhood sector about a decade ago and I’ve been promoting a holistic approach to healthy eating to under 5s and their whānau since. I decided to go back to university after 20 years because I felt I needed a formal qualification connected to the work I do.
“The Graduate Diploma in Health Science was the perfect choice for me, as it allowed me to study part-time without impacting on my day-to-day job. AUT’s public health programmes are forward-thinking, introducing students to the latest trends and global agendas – including planetary health, the impact of technology and innovation and the skills students must develop to ensure they’re well placed in the job markets of today and in the future.”
The right choice
She has had many highlights throughout her studies, says Fern who completed her graduate diploma in mid-2019.
“My lecturers have been superb – constantly generous with their time and knowledge, and always making me feel supported and encouraged to follow my curiosity and interests. I love being at AUT because I’m always meeting interesting people from different backgrounds, countries and cultures who bring with them new ideas and ways to look at things.”
She also appreciated being able to apply what she was learning to her own business, Clean Plate, which was born to provide a holistic approach to healthy eating and wellbeing for the early childhood education sector.
“We’re not only addressing children’s individual health but also the health of their communities and the natural environment. Our services range from providing easy-to-follow, made from scratch recipes developed with young children’s taste buds in mind, to workshops for parents on how to pack healthy and environmentally friendly lunchboxes, to working with early childhood teachers, managers and cooks on introducing composting systems and reducing waste.
“Being at AUT has benefitted my work so much – I’ve been able to link the latest research, as well as global and national trends in the health promotion and public and environmental health sectors with the work I do.”
An inspiring academic environment
Deciding to continue into postgraduate study was easy, Fern says.
“During my graduate diploma I took every opportunity to connect my studies to my mahi, and it was just a natural progression into postgraduate study to make these ‘study – work’ connections even more relevant and applicable to real life. I’m now enrolled in the Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health and loving it.”
Now nearing the end of her first semester, Fern is certain this is only her first taste of postgraduate study.
“I already know that I want to go all the way and complete the Master of Public Health, and perhaps one day the Doctor of Health Science. I’m planning to continue letting my findings in academia guide the work I do, and hopefully help improve the health of our children and the planet along the way.”