Nailah Akbar

Nailah Akbar

3rd-year student, Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice

She has had an interest in the justice system since she was a child, says Nailah Akbar who is currently completing a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice.

“I’ve always had a passion for the criminal justice system and when I was growing up, I’d watch shows like Law and Order, CSI and SVU. My passion for the law also stemmed from my family – I’ll be the fourth generation to have completed a law degree.

“Being engrossed in legal conversations since I was young has really influenced and encouraged me to pursue a law degree. As I progressed through high school, I noticed my passion for law increasing, along with my passion to teach and assist others. I realised a law degree can open many doors and be a steppingstone to diverse opportunities, and you don’t have to be confined to practising law.”

While she still has a couple more years of study ahead of her, Nailah is already looking forward to making a difference in the community with the knowledge and skills acquired from her degree.

“My ultimate goal is to assist people, be they family, friends or the public at large. I’d love to be involved in addressing concerns pertaining to inequity and discrimination. Irrespective of your area of specialty, the law is an enabler of assistance and is rightfully referred to as the ‘noble profession’.”

Supported to thrive
The teaching methods and comradery are something she really enjoys about AUT, says Nailah who transferred to AUT after a year at another university.

“I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some amazing people at AUT, and this has certainly been a highlight. Everyone is so lovely, warm and welcoming.

“AUT’s support system has been amazing, and there has always been someone available to help if I needed it. The subjects can get really hard at times and AUT has been very supportive. During exam period, they have a lot of study spaces available, workshops are made available for any students who are struggling, and the office and library hours are extended. There’s also a lot of mental health advocacy, which is really important.”

Nailah wouldn’t hesitate to recommend studying law.

“With law, you know everything you study is useful. For example, knowing about employment law will create awareness of your rights in the workplace and business. There’s an actual application of the knowledge to the real world. The programme also gives you a bit of everything. The courses are really diverse, so when you’re admitted to the bar you have a fair idea of what area you want to specialise in.”

New opportunities and interests
The opportunities available to AUT students are what she has enjoyed most about her time at university.

“The most significant opportunity and privilege I’ve had is working for the Oceanic Leadership Network (OLN). In essence, the network has a purpose of helping all students, especially Pacific and Māori students as they are often disadvantaged with the opportunities available to them in high school, their social economic status and their upbringing. I think the network’s initiatives are so promising.”

In her role, Nailah mentors first-year law students at both the AUT City and South Campus, meeting with them twice a week to share her knowledge. It’s an experience she has found inspiring.

“This role has made me appreciate my love for teaching and has made me consider adding a teaching degree – which I will do at AUT. I’ve already added a minor in children and learning to my degree due to my new interest in teaching. Becoming enlightened about this new area of interest and working with children is something I owe to AUT.”

Advice for other students
Now in the third year of her studies, Nailah has some great advice for other students.

“You can do anything you set your mind to. Ask questions if you don’t know anything. Do the readings! Balance your time wisely – don’t just study 24/7. Leave some time to have fun and make memories.

“Failure is key to success – you will not be able to improve in life if you don’t fail and improve yourself to do better. Know that you’re not alone and there is help provided from AUT with any degree you choose to go into. And remember that just because you choose a degree it doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind.”

Her other important piece of advice is: your health comes first, always.

“No subject will ever be as important as your mental health, so take the time to focus on yourself as well. University life is a journey filled with successes, obstacles and hurdles, so appreciate and enjoy the journey as this time will not come back.”

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