Andrew Arona had always known that he wanted to do something to make a change in his community, it just took him a little while to discover the right path to take.
26 June 2019
Andrew moved from Samoa to Aotearoa with his fanau in 2009, and recently graduated with a Bachelor of Nursing at Unitec. Andrew attributes his passion for nursing to his Christian values; he and other members of his church give back to the community by regularly donating food to the homeless. This work got him thinking about how else he could serve his community.
Andrew initially studied Unitec’s Certificate in University Preparation before moving into the degree programme on a scholarship (he received both a UMatter Award and a Unitec Pathways Kickstart Scholarship). For Andrew, one of the highlights of the programme were the interactions he had with his lecturers.
"They were so approachable! It was awesome that Unitec also has services like Te Puna Ako and the Pacific Centre, which are dedicated to supporting Māori and Pacific students."
According to Helena Finau, Team Leader within the Student wellbeing team at Unitec, the best way to help students open up about personal and study matters is to develop strong, long-lasting relationships with them.
"After all, they're why we're all here in the first place", says Helena.
Andrew also found that cultural awareness was a massive part of the programme, and is instrumental in helping students understand different cultural needs and values.
"Every patient comes from a different walk of life, so it’s really important to understand where they’re coming from and treat them according to their own value systems," he says.
Andrew and his cousin Taulaga (who lectures at Unitec) now run presentations at their local church on healthcare issues that are most relevant to the congregation, particularly around diabetes, gout, and strokes. They also measure blood pressure, glucose (sugar) levels, weight, and check for other medical conditions.
“Respect is a massive part of Samoan culture, so it was hard, going in as someone young, to tell these elders what to do,” he recalls.
Now working at Auckland hospital, Andrew has found that having his nursing degree has made a big difference in his interactions, and he’s committed to growing preventative healthcare in his community.
Unitec currently offers 3 Bachelor of Nursing scholarships, each worth $2000, for new nursing students. Applications for Semester 2 2019 are now open, so if Andrew’s story has inspired you, apply now so you don't miss your chance to start your own journey in this rewarding profession.