Master of Analytics student
Graduate Diploma in Computer and Information Sciences
She wants to apply her understanding of data analytics to help people, says Mele Sikimeti Manitisa who came to AUT as an international student from Tonga, supported by a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade NZ Scholarship.
“Before I came to AUT I worked in the government of Tonga as a senior computer programmer. As part of my role, I was involved in managing databases, and producing statistics and analysis for reporting purposes and policy changes. It was then that I developed an interest in how data can be used for effective decision making and policy changes.
“I’m graduating with my Master of Analytics later this year, and would love to use my data analytics skills on the ground to contribute to improving the quality of life for all people, especially in Tonga. I believe quality data changes lives, and I’m keen to be involved in supporting leaders in making data-driven decisions and evidence-based policy changes.”
The right university environment
She has had plenty of highlights throughout her time at AUT, says Mele whose AUT journey started with a Graduate Diploma in Computer and Information Sciences before she enrolled in the Master of Analytics.
“I enjoyed the flexibility in learning and the exposure to both research and practical work. My final semester in the Master of Analytics gave me the chance to work on an industrial project with one of New Zealand’s well-known companies. This opportunity enabled me to work on real-life problems, widening my perspective by conducting research and carrying out analysis that provides insight to the problem.
“The Master of Analytics has extended my knowledge and widened my views on various aspects of life. Living in a data-driven age, this programme has taught me how to use data analysis using various statistical methods and modelling, including machine learning and artificial intelligence, to gain understanding and provide insights that could influence lives. Seeing myself growing as a student and a researcher into a professional practitioner has been the best feeling.”
Studying during the COVID-19 global pandemic has been challenging, she admits.
“The biggest challenge I faced was when COVID-19 hit the country in the year 2020. The academic system was put to a test, and the university had to reorganise how the rest of the academic year would look like. The uncertainty during this time was quite challenging. As AUT re-adjusted and moved into online learning, I witnessed how much AUT values students’ success and how resilient we all are. AUT gave me all the support I needed, from laptops to routers for internet access, but above all that, my lecturers and supervisors were very supportive during this time.”
Advice for other students
Expecting to graduate from AUT later this winter, Mele has some great advice for other students.
“As an international student, I know that sometimes we feel obligated to succeed because it costs us so much to pursue higher education in New Zealand. Sometimes, the pressure can get to us and if we fail, we feel like we’ve failed our families and our sponsors. However, I encourage you all to use that as a motivation to succeed and as fuel to reach your goals.
“If you do fail, don’t beat yourself up – just recoup, seek help and sail on. AUT has a great supporting system for students. They want to see us succeed; we just need to reach out to them.”
Mele knows what she is talking about and still remembers her own struggles when she first started her Master of Analytics.
“Given I have no statistics background, the first class was like watching an Asian movie with no subtitles. I remember contemplating whether I made the right decision or not to pursue this degree. However, the guidance and support I’ve received from my professors from day one has made the journey possible for me.”