Melanie Araya

Melanie Araya

3rd-year student, Bachelor of Communication Studies in Public Relations with a minor in Spanish

She loves storytelling, says Melanie Araya who is in her final year of a Bachelor of Communication Studies in Public Relations with a minor in Spanish.

“I’ve always known I'm a people person – I love being with people, and sharing a laugh or a story. I find that it's between laughter and commonality that we can see others' passions and dreams. Before starting university, I had worked in theatre and film, which has given me a skillset in project management. I found I had developed serious writing and analysis skills through exposure to theatrical literature. Naturally, all these elements pointed me to the communication studies programme.

“When I was deciding where to study, I knew the best place to pursue a communications programme would be at a university with a modern learning approach that embraces changing workplace industry trends. Above all, as I’m working as a flight attendant alongside my degree, I needed a university that would be understanding and flexible to support me throughout my student journey.”

Coming to AUT for her studies has certainly proved to be the right decision.

“AUT's approach to learning is unique in that there’s a challenging yet practical approach to learning. I’ve also found my lecturers' support toward my education and work-life schedule encouraging and enabling. Uni is a huge commitment, and you have to put in the work, but it's humbling to know that your lecturers have your back.”

A plethora of subjects to choose
The most exciting part of university is the plethora of subjects you can learn, Melanie says.

“Because I had a bit of an understanding of public relations, I entered this major intending to hone my writing skills but I soon saw how holistic the practice is; the foundation is strategic messaging and, at its core, people. A repertoire in communications lets you work in a variety of industries, and I’ve loved taking elective courses on screen production and journalism to add to my existing skillset.”

Being able to include a Spanish minor as part of her communications degree has been one of the highlights for her.

“Taking Spanish as a minor fuelled my enthusiasm as a student. Spanish is personal to me as my family is from Latin America, and it’s a subject that connects deeply to my identity. Studying the language from a structural point of view has been interesting, as it has helped improve my writing, analysis, and artistic expression.

“Once you know another language, it opens your mind to different ways of thinking, and the most crucial aspect is the empathy and intercultural understanding it offers to people taking up a new language. Returning to the linguistic roots and how language connects strongly to emotions and communication brings me back to my focus: stories and people.”

Advice for other students
Explore all the opportunities to get involved in student life, Melanie advises other students.

“There’s so much on offer at AUT beyond academia. You never know who you meet, what you’ll get involved in or what you may achieve. I joined the AUT OffGrid Outdoor Club on a few hikes and met students from other programmes. It's great to meet different people as it expands your perspective on the university experience. The OffGrid club impacted my personal life profoundly – I started tramping more seriously and have gained invaluable outdoor skills.”

Academia is of course important too, she adds.

“The best way to do well in your studies is doing something you enjoy, sleeping well and staying hydrated. Bring your own brain-food snacks!”