Nickola Loodin

Nickola Loodin

Master of Public Health student
Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health
Bachelor of Health Science in Health Promotion

How can you prepare children for an emergency situation? That’s the interesting topic Nickola Loodin is exploring through her Master of Public Health.

For her master’s research Nickola is focusing on emergency and disaster management, and exploring the use of Lego bricks as a participatory tool to engage children in disaster risk reduction research.

“This topic was part of a wider project, funded by the Ministry of Business and Innovation, that my supervisor was working on. What caught my interest was that this topic had never been researched before, and the fact that disaster risk reduction requires inclusive and equitable approaches that foster genuine participation of all members of society.

“To investigate the ways in which children could be brought into the conversation, where they are talked to rather than talked at, was what drove me to investigate this topic.”

Expecting to finish her thesis next year, Nickola already has a good idea what she would like to do in the future.

“It would be my absolute dream to work for Save the Children, UNICEF or the World Health Organisation one day. But for now, my plan is just to finish my thesis and then see what doors will open.”

Finding direction
Her pathway has not always seemed this clear, Nickola admits.

“At the end of my final year of secondary school I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, and it terrified me that everyone around me seemed so sure of their purpose in life. However, I wanted to go to university because all my friends were doing it and it seemed like the thing to do.

“After two years of a Bachelor of Arts someone told me that they could see me enjoying health promotion. Health promotion wasn’t something I had heard of before, however after investigating AUT’s health promotion degree I finally felt like I had found something that resonated with me.”

It’s decision she has not regretted, says Nickola who completed her Bachelor of Health Science in 2012. She returned to AUT in 2017 for postgraduate study.

“Health promotion and public health make sense to me and it’s an area I’m passionate about. I wanted a career that I care deeply about.”

Advice for other students
Make the most of your time at university, she advises other students.

“Utilise your lecturers and ask them questions, read your readings and most importantly look up from your screens every now and then, and talk to the people around you. Because it really is the people that make this place.”

She appreciates the expertise of AUT’s public health lecturers, Nickola says.

“The lecturers here are fantastic. My lecturers have come from varied backgrounds, but all provided practical insight into the theory they’re teaching and have continued to inspire me to pursue my studies.

“While picking your degree and your path in life is obviously very personal, if you’re passionate about public health then I would absolutely recommend finding a course at AUT.”