Jade Christiansen’s dream is to become a researcher, looking into the conservation of the fragile Pacific ecology and ways to sustain it.
Of Samoan descent, Jade grew up in Halcombe, a small town in the Manawatu region.
This year, Jade is one of 13 Toloa Tertiary Scholarship recipients, who have been recognised at a recent awards ceremony in Mangere.
The Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) funded initiative is designed to motivate, celebrate and inspire Pacific people to study STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) courses at a tertiary level and enter a career in STEM.
Studying the sciences is a logical career path for Jade, who has always been interested in the subject from an early age and is currently studying towards a Bachelor of Science at the University of Otago, majoring in Zoology and Ecology.
“I was inspired to undertake zoology because of my high school biology teacher that showed me all the interesting areas surrounding biology, in which zoology sparked my interest,” Jade explains.
Specialising in these areas will help her realise her goal of helping the New Zealand and Pacific community through conservation or ecological research after university.
“My dream job would be to be a researcher… the Pacific ecosystem is very volatile, therefore by continuing along a path in ecology and being able to understand the changes that have occurred in the past and present, will help me to understand the changes that may happen in the future.
“This will help stabilise and preserve the Pacific ecosystems our ancestors before us fought for.”
As a female of Pacific heritage, studying a STEM subject, Jade is part of a minority group in NZ and she says this needs to change.
“Pacific peoples are underrepresented in the sciences,” she adds.
“The Pacific perspective is a unique one that shouldn’t be undervalued and there should be more Pacific involved in the sciences.
Visit MPP for more information on the Toloa Tertiary Scholarship initiative.