Helena Sanderson

Helena Sanderson

3rd-year student, Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science

She loves the ocean, says environmental science student Helena Sanderson who is a passionate sailor and has already participated in two sailing youth world championships.

“I care deeply about the outdoors and the environment, and feel very strongly about doing my part to protect it. I’d be very happy working on or in the ocean as part of my career, whether that’s for research, education or conservation.

“When I was in Year 13, I went on a week-long environmental leadership camp with BLAKE. All week we learned about the processes and applications of both local and global environmental science issues, and I felt compelled to be a part of the solution.  Science is a continually developing and advancing field, which is really exciting because new technologies and solutions are coming out all the time.”

Once Helena had decided to learn more about environmental science and how she could make a positive impact, she soon found her way to AUT.

“I heard so many people talk so positively about AUT, its programmes and how they give you a more hands-on university experience. I liked the fact that AUT had more niche and tailored experiences on offer and the smaller class sizes make it easier to seek help if you need it.”

A smooth transition
Receiving an AUT Welcome to Auckland Scholarship made it much easier to move from her home in Northland to Auckland to go to uni, Helena says.

“The AUT Welcome to Auckland Scholarship made all the difference when I moved from Kerikeri to Auckland for university. It was quite daunting to go from a small rural town to the middle of the biggest city in New Zealand. The scholarship included a safe place to call home in the Te Āhuru Mayoral Drive Student Accommodation, which is right next to campus. I met some of my best friends there and got more comfortable living in the city. Now in my third year, the scholarship is still contributing towards my fees, which helps so much.”

Now in the final year of her studies, she has had plenty of highlights throughout her time at AUT.

“I love learning about all the theory in my classes – we have some really cool and experienced lecturers at AUT. However, my favourite part are the field trips where we get to put our knowledge into practice. I really love the ocean, so the oceanography course has been my favourite; going out on the AUT boat to take water samples and do CTD drops.

“Because I’m a student athlete and am balancing my studies with my sailing commitments, I haven’t participated too much in the typical ‘student life’ activities, however I’ve made some of my best friends both through my studies and in the first-year student accommodation. University is really great because you get to meet so many new people from lots of different experiences and backgrounds.”

Advice for other students
Helena’s advice for other students is simple: make connections.

“Three years for a bachelor’s degree goes by really fast, and making friends and connections in that time is super important. Ask questions and reach out to your teaching assistants and lecturers for help or advice. Everyone is super friendly and keen to help if they can. They have a wealth of knowledge and you never know what opportunities can come from those conversations.”

Make friends in your classes too, she adds.

“Most people are there for the same reason, and share the same goals and passions. University is a lot more fun when you share the experience, and having connections when you graduate is super helpful too.”