Rachel Takoar

Rachel Takoar

Master of Computer and Information Sciences student
Graduate Diploma in Computer and Information Sciences

She wants to help her home country build a strong digital health system, says Rachel Takoar who came to AUT from Vanuatu to study computer and information sciences, supported by a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade New Zealand – Manaaki New Zealand Scholarship.

“I love working with data, and enjoy identifying the different ways of collecting, analysing and using data. Before coming to AUT, I worked as the health information systems manager for the Ministry of Health in my home country Vanuatu. We developed and launched a digital health strategy just before I left for my studies, and I felt that if I returned with my master’s degree I could ensure that we have a good digital health system in Vanuatu.

“I graduated as a nurse back in the 90s, spent a few years working as a nurse, then shifted my focus to public health. I recently became interested in computer and information sciences, and once I complete my Master of Computer and Information Sciences I’m planning to return to Vanuatu and my position at the Ministry of Health.”

The right university environment
For her master’s degree research, Rachel is investigating the advantages and limitations of implementing telehealth in Vanuatu. Her research is supervised by Dr Samaneh Madanian from AUT’s School of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences.

“I chose this topic because telehealth is part of Vanuatu’s digital health strategy. Assessing now what can be done and what limitations we may face when implementing telehealth will help my country when we’re ready to introduce telehealth. They can use this research as a way forward to developing it. With the current COVID-19 pandemic, I believe developing and implementing telehealth in Vanuatu is essential.”

She has thoroughly enjoyed AUT’s university environment.

“I enjoyed the study environment – there is a lot of space and it is quiet and user friendly. This has given me a boost to learn more in this kind of environment. I also enjoyed the learning materials and the courses offered, and the lecturers and tutors have been very helpful. Another thing I liked about AUT is that I got to know people from all over the world who are doing the same courses as me. I also enjoyed being in New Zealand.

“The biggest challenge for me was when COVID-19 struck New Zealand in 2020, and we had to quickly move from face-to-face learning to online learning. That was a major challenge as I was more used to face-to-face learning. However, AUT immediately started working to ensure everyone has the right tools and the right platform to log into online classes so learning could continue as normal as possible.”

Advice for other students
Expecting to complete her master’s degree later this year, Rachel has some great advice for other students.

“Nothing is impossible if you trust and believe in yourself.”

She would highly recommend AUT to other students who are thinking of furthering their studies in computer and information sciences.

“If you’re interested in computing and IT, the best place to undertake this programme is at AUT. AUT provides labs and equipment that will assist in your learning, as well as professors and supervisors to help you gain the most from your studies. By the end of your programme at AUT, trust me, you will be happy with the outcome of your academic performance and will be ready to fully join the workforce, wherever you are based.”

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