2nd-year student, Bachelor of Arts in Culinary Arts
Deciding to study culinary arts was easy, says Regina Kabweaa Teem who came to AUT as an international student from Kiribati, supported by a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade NZ Scholarship.
“I chose to study the Bachelor of Arts in Culinary Arts because culinary arts is currently a growing but relatively small industry back home. A few years after leaving secondary school, I began selling lunches to high schools and government offices in Kiribati, and I’ve also become involved in my mother’s small catering business in Tarawa.
“I wanted to use my skills in a more professional capacity, and was inspired to pursue this degree when I learned of the shortage of professionally qualified chefs not only in Kiribati but also in the Micronesian region. Once I graduate, I’m hoping to apply my skills and knowledge back home, and pursue appropriate qualifications to teach culinary arts in a professional setting in Kiribati.”
Learning from the best
Everything about her studies so far has been amazing, Regina says.
“Meeting new people from diverse backgrounds doing the same programme has given me insight into many different aspects related to our shared interest in making food. The guidance of the chef lecturers and their experiences in the culinary world offer us the best opportunities to learn first-hand from them; from the basics required to operate efficiently in a kitchen environment to the tricks they themselves picked up from experience.”
She would encourage others to pursue AUT’s culinary arts programme.
“AUT has one of the top culinary arts programmes in New Zealand and is ranked in the top 100 universities in the world for its hospitality and leisure management programmes. This means that you know you’re learning from the best in the region.
“You begin by learning the very basics and gradually build up your skills, under the guidance of the lecturers. Chefs sometimes have a reputation for being short-tempered, but that couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to the people I met at AUT.”
Advice for other students
Now in the second year of her studies, Regina has some great advice for other students.
“Utilise all the resources available to you – the range of support AUT offers to students is vast, so take time to learn about them to find out which ones will suit your learning style best. Don't be afraid to seek assistance from lecturers or anyone who is in a position to help. Explore and make new friends as meeting new people offers the opportunity to encounter new perspectives you would otherwise very rarely get a chance to experience.”
Studying during the global COVID-19 pandemic has had its challenges, she admits.
“I began my studies just as COVID-19 was making its presence known around the world. The COVID -19 lockdown in New Zealand in early 2020 was undoubtedly the biggest challenge I’ve encountered, but I was surprised and immensely relieved by the level of support made available to us and the assurance given by AUT that all students will make it through the semester no matter what.”