Marketing and Communications Manager, Pacific Cooperation Foundation
Bachelor of Communication Studies in Public Relations
The connections she made while studying at AUT were what stood out most about her time at university, says Suzanne Suisuiki who completed her Bachelor of Communication Studies in Public Relations in 2015.
“The highlight for me was connecting with other Pacific students or alumni from communications. Studying towards a degree is a unique journey for anyone but for me what made my uni journey more meaningful and less daunting was connecting with others from similar backgrounds who shared the same passions, dreams, interests and faced familiar struggles. I found that empowering.”
For Suzanne, her time at AUT also fostered a new sense of pride of being Pacific.
“I’m New Zealand-born Samoan and was always proud of my heritage. But I assumed that I had to ‘park’ my culture at home and be more ‘mainstream’ while at uni – but that was not the case at all at AUT. If anything, AUT sets the benchmark of what it means to be diverse and inclusive, from its papers, to the students and staff.”
Having always loved writing, deciding to study the Bachelor of Communication Studies was only natural, Suzanne says.
“I chose communications because I felt that it was a broad field, from PR to journalism and advertising. But storytelling will always be at the heart of things – it’s powerful and leaves a lasting impression on the people you are influencing.
“I had relatives who had studied at AUT and during my high school term breaks I would go along with them. I was really impressed with what I saw, particularly the genuine support AUT students received from staff.”
What really sealed the deal for her, however, was the fact that AUT students get to practise what they’ve learnt in the classroom.
“I knew I would be in good hands once I submitted my application to AUT. I reckon AUT not only enables its students to be work-ready, but encourages them to set long-term goals and believe that they’re capable of becoming future CEOs or leaders.”
Making a difference
Now working as the marketing and communications manager for the Pacific Cooperation Foundation, Suzanne enjoys the variety of her role – from creating content for the organisation’s digital platforms and writing press releases, CEO statements and stories, to mentoring marketing and communication students from the French Territories.
What she loves most, however, is facilitating the internship programmes for interns from across the Pacific region.
“The internships are part of our organisation’s focus area on regional leadership and cultural co-operation. In the past year, we’ve placed 16 interns who are on the NZ Aid scholarship in various organisations around the country. When they return to their home country, most of them secure roles that enable them to contribute to the development of their country’s economy and infrastructure.
“I enjoy this part of my role because I get to profile them, and understand why they’ve made the decision to study abroad. Then once they return and we learn about what they’re up to, it feels rewarding to know that you had a part to play in their journey. It definitely takes me back to when I was a student at AUT and I think about every single person there who took the time to help me grow as a student and got me to where I am today.”
Advice for other students
Always believe in yourself, no matter what, Suzanne advises other students.
“When you believe in your capabilities and what you think you can offer this world, you’ll start to attract more people who will believe in you too and support you in ways that make your journey worthwhile. It doesn’t mean that you won’t come across challenges while studying of course, but how you handle and grow from those challenges will benefit you in the long run, especially once you start to enter the ‘real world’.”
She will never forget her graduation day, says Suzanne who was awarded the Pacific Islands Media Association Scholarship to support her studies.
“John Campbell was the keynote speaker at my graduation, and he said something that impressed me and has stuck with me since, ‘The world may be tough, but so are you.’”