Simaima Paongo

Simaima Paongo

Master of Education student
Bachelor of Arts in Education

She wants to improve the education system for Pacific learners, says Simaima Paongo who completed a Bachelor of Arts in Education and is currently enrolled in a Master of Education.

“Unfortunately, Pacific learners have been underachieving for a long time within the New Zealand education system. As a Pacific woman, I have lived experiences of dealing with inequality in education, and I knew studying education would allow me to bring forward what needs to be done. After I completed my Bachelor of Arts, I decided to take my studies further.

“The education system is still far from perfect, and I’m on a mission to change the sad reality experienced by many Pacific students. I’m planning to pursue a career in a variety of settings, including social development work, human resources, youth and community work, training and mentoring, and other areas of education. I want my Pacific brothers and sisters to fully realise that they’re capable and to see possibility rather than being restricted to what they’ve always known.”

While completing a master’s degree is certainly not easy, Simaima’s passion for equal opportunities keeps her motivated.

“What I’ve cherished most about postgraduate study is the ability to dive deep into the area I’m most passionate about. I admit that postgraduate courses can be challenging because as we progress from undergraduate through to postgraduate study, we read more, conduct more research and of course write more. My desire to build a more equal education system for diverse learners is what keeps me going. I’m truly grateful to my supportive AUT lecturers, family and friends for pushing me through.”

Choosing AUT
Deciding to come to AUT for her studies was easy, Simaima says.

“I'm frequently asked why I chose to study at AUT. The simple response is that AUT is home. Coming from a Pacific family, I carry a full bundle of culture, identity, and values with me; all of which are recognised, acknowledged, respected and welcomed at AUT. AUT's support system is so impressive that all students will be able to cross the stage.”

She has thoroughly enjoyed her time at AUT.

“I would 100% recommend the education programmes to anyone. These programmes give you a chance to reflect on your own journey and recognise the impact that we as people can have on others. The education programme helped me discover why I do what I do.

“Throughout my time at AUT I also completed the AUT Edge Award, a programme that equipped me with relevant tools and skills to make a real difference in all areas of my life. However, the biggest highlight for me at AUT were the memories and friendships created over the years.”

Advice for other students
Simaima – who received an AUT Postgraduate Scholarship and expects to complete her master’s degree later this year – has some great advice for other postgraduate students.

“There’s a saying that ‘the higher you climb up the mountain, the better the view’. If you're thinking of studying at a postgraduate level, don't think about how difficult it will be, but think about the positive impact it will have on you and your 'why.' Remember why you get out of bed every morning. True, nothing worthwhile comes easily, but we all have a lion inside of us, and now is the moment to let that lion out.”

You need to balance study with your other commitments, she adds.

“My biggest difficulty was definitely juggling life commitments and university demands. As a university student, I sometimes feel obligated to study at all times, but this isn’t sustainable as I also have a life outside of university. Thankfully, AUT has a range of understanding lecturers who have made my journey a breeze.”