Hana Malak

Hana Malak

Senior Lead Engagement Officer, Honorary Consulate of Lebanon in New Zealand
Master of Communication Studies student
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

She would highly recommend the various opportunities AUT offers its students, says Hana Malak who works as a senior lead engagement officer at the Honorary Consulate of Lebanon in New Zealand, and has recently also become a Justice of the Peace.

“One of the highlights of my experience at AUT was participating in the employability awards programme. I completed the Beyond AUT Award for postgraduate students, and this initiative provided practical skills I could apply in real-life scenarios. I know I will continue to use these skills. My advice for other students would be to sign up for the award programme as it will draw you out of your comfort zone and build up your confidence.”

Participating in the Beyond AUT Award has certainly been a confidence booster for Hana, and learning how to deliver an elevator pitch has opened up many opportunities for her. She is proud of both landing her role at the Honorary Consulate of Lebanon and becoming the youngest female JP in Auckland.

“When I first visited the AUT Employability Lab, I quickly came to realise that I needed to be able to introduce myself professionally before I put myself in front of employers. All the practice we did meant I was able to hide my nervousness and appear confident even if I wasn’t. So I got the hang of what people really wanted to know about me and how to deliver that.”

In the future, she hopes to use her diverse background and strong communication and relationship-building skills help people and make a positive impact on the community.

An easy choice
For Hana, her AUT journey started with enrolling in the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology; a qualification she completed at the end of 2017.

“I chose to study psychology because I had developed a keen interest in the field of organisational psychology. Recognising that we spend a significant portion of our lives at work, I found it intriguing to delve deeper into understanding human behaviour within the workplace context and how it compares to individuals' lives outside of work.”

AUT’s reputation for hands-on learning made it an easy choice for her studies.

“When I was looking at my university options, I chose AUT primarily for its practical learning framework. What stood out to me about AUT was its unwavering dedication to celebrating students and embracing their diverse backgrounds. I appreciated that the university consistently organises programmes, events and initiatives to uplift its unique student body, and provide them with the necessary support and resources for success.”

Conducting meaningful research
But that wasn’t the end of Hana’s connection with AUT, and she has since returned for part-time study in a Master of Communication Studies.

“After a work opportunity presented itself, I made the decision to put my postgraduate studies on hold. However, as time passed, I felt that my degree remained incomplete. Given my involvement in the communications field at work, pursuing a master's degree in communication studies seemed the most fitting choice. I believe that a versatile degree like communications will open doors to various future career opportunities.”

Deciding on a research topic for her master’s degree was a bit of a strenuous journey, she admits.

“Initially, I aimed to steer clear of researching anything related to the Muslim community, as I felt that wearing a hijab in New Zealand often led to being solely defined by that aspect, neglecting other dimensions of my identity. However, my exceptional supervisor, Dr Jennie Watts, helped me recognise the importance of embracing who I am and challenging stereotypical one-dimensional views of Muslim women.

“Driven by the desire to conduct meaningful research, I chose to explore the experiences of ethnic Muslim women at the New Zealand Police. This study shed light on their workplace experiences as both government representatives and individuals practising their faith. My research has uncovered a significant alignment between the values held by Muslim women and those upheld by the police force, an aspect that had not been previously explored. It was a great learning curve and I learned a lot about myself throughout my research.”