Intern, Helius Therapeutics
Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
It’s fascinating how the smallest of things can have the largest of impacts on our lives, says Toree Deepanwita, an international student from Bangladesh who studied a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics.
“While preparing for my Cambridge A levels exams, I took an online course on immunology, involving a case study on the antibiotic resistance of an MRSA super-bug. That sparked my interest in microbiology.
“As I completed a few courses at AUT, my interest in understanding the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of microbes from cellular depth increased and thus I added a second major, Molecular Genetics, to my degree. I liked that with microbiology and genetics there are so many avenues I can specialise in like the environment, food, forensics, biotechnology and medical industries. This gave me the option to look at diverse industries and find out which pathway I’m passionate about.”
After completing her studies in mid-2021, Toree is proud of gaining a research internship at Helius Therapeutics, one of New Zealand’s biggest biotechnology companies, supported by a Callaghan Research Grant. In the future, she hopes to apply her understanding of microbiology and molecular genetics in different research organisations and enhance her skills.
Relevant and inspiring
When Toree was choosing a university for her studies, AUT stood out.
“AUT stood out because of its focus on practical learning and its modern research facilities. From numerous student testimonials, I had learned about AUT’s interactive and constantly evolving teaching methods, and I was impressed that AUT encourages students to help the community through volunteering and other leadership activities.”
It’s a decision she hasn’t regretted.
“As a Bachelor of Science student, hands-on experience is crucial and the fact that third-year students can undergo a year-long research project was exactly what I was looking for to gain some experience in my chosen field.
“My motivation to push myself harder and never give up was inspired by Associate Professor Donnabella Lacap-Bugler who was a mentor for me throughout my degree. Not only did she encourage me towards my goal, but she also guided me to bring out my passion for microbiology from within.”
Making the most of university life
In addition to her studies, Toree also managed to make the most of her time at university.
“I took part in as many extracurricular activities as I could and, as a result, I met people from different walks of life, which definitely broadened my perspective. I started up the AUT Boardgame Club with my best friend, represented AUT as a student ambassador, was a class representative for two of my courses, volunteered as an events activation crew member for AUTSA, and was selected as an academic coach for international scholars. But my biggest achievement was receiving the AUT Edge Award.
“Studying, meeting deadlines as well as working part-time and partaking in a myriad of non-academic activities while being thousands of miles away from my family and learning to live all on my own was the biggest challenge for me. What helped me get through was the immense support I got from my friends, teachers and advisors at AUT. The friendly staff always made me feel heard and they went above and beyond to offer the support I needed.”
She has some great advice for other students just starting their university journey.
“This doesn’t necessarily need to be perfectly aligned to your degree – just talk to people and make connections. Never hesitate to ask questions or call out for help. Step out of your comfort zone and be open to making changes. Most importantly, be kind to yourself and your surroundings.”