Su Myat Kyaw

Su Myat Kyaw

Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Master of Disaster Risk Management and Development with Honours (First Class)

For many Myanmar migrants floods and storms are common hazards that often lead to disasters, says Su Myat Kyaw who came to AUT as an international student from Myanmar to study disaster risk management and development. Her master’s degree research was supervised by Dr Ailsa Holloway.

“Most Myanmar migrants have faced floods and storm-related disasters in their homeland, the refugee camps in Thailand, and also in their new home, New Zealand. To reduce the risk storms and floods pose to the Myanmar migrant community and New Zealand, risk communication is vital, particularly in the readiness stage. I’m hoping that my research will provide valuable insights into raising awareness and adoption of protective action in the tiny Myanmar migrant community, and this will lead towards a resilient nation, with a strong feeling of togetherness.”

Su, who has a background in medicine, returned to Myanmar after finishing her studies in 2021 to work as a medical activity manager for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) where she was responsible for managing mobile clinic activities and  supervising the junior medical doctors.

She has now returned to AUT to study a PhD focusing on the climate change challenges facing culturally and linguistically diverse communities in Auckland. Her studies are supported by an AUT Doctoral Scholarship and her PhD will be supervised by Dr Ailsa Holloway as well as Dr Helen Williams.

Making a difference
Su says she first came to AUT to further her understanding of how to best support people during emergencies and disaster situations, supported by a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade NZ Scholarship for her master’s degree.

“I have a bachelor’s degree in medicine from my home country, and spent several years working at general hospitals and private clinics as a junior medical doctor and an assistant surgeon, followed by a career as a freelance general practitioner. I decided to study disaster risk management to develop a better understanding of the broader management of disaster and emergency-related events.”

It’s a decision she hasn’t regretted, says Su.

“I would recommend AUT’s disaster risk management and development programme. It’s suitable for those from a medical background, a nursing background, an engineering background and for urban planners. If you’re interested in the disaster risk management field, this programme gives you the chance to meet people with the same passion as you.”

In addition to her studies, she is also proud of completing an AUT Edge Award and a Beyond AUT Award, which help students stand out in the competitive job market.

Supported to thrive
Su says she has appreciated the support available to students at AUT, particularly in times of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“I liked that AUT tries to support students not only by offering a great physical environment but also by looking after their mental health. During the COVID-19 lockdown levels 3 and 4 AUT was continuously encouraging students, and asked academic staff to be flexible and remember that it’s a challenging time for students. It was also a relief that research students could get an extension for their dissertation or thesis without having to worry about additional fees.”

Her first semester in New Zealand had some challenges too, she admits.

“As an international student from a developing country, my first semester was challenging. I was depressed and wasn’t sure if I was suited for this international academic atmosphere. However, Dr Ailsa Holloway helped me overcome these obstacles, and made me feel motivated again.”