North America

Meet Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington's alumni contacts across the US, including the University’s US engagement director.


Jessie Macasaquit and Kate Keith-Fitzgerald

Boston alumni LinkedIn group

Portrait photograph.

Jessie Macasaquit (BCA)

Linked In: Connect with Jessie

Jessie has been based in Boston since 2006.  He started work as a senior analyst on alternative investment software for State Street and Fidelity Investments and eventually worked his way up to management at CitiGroup. In 2013, Jessie joined a five-year electronic medical records software deployment project at Mass General Brigham. He continues to work for MGB, currently as a senior project specialist.

In addition to his Bachelor of Commerce from Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington, Jessie also has an engineering degree from Mapúa University in Manila and briefly worked in cosmetics and industrial gas manufacturing.

What are your top tips for alumni newly-arrived to Boston?

I’m thinking family or a job might have lured them into Boston, so they would already have connections. It does pay to reach out to one of us in the alumni group as our unique experiences, which may invariably be similar to newcomers, can be invaluable to helping them get settled. Whether it’s looking for advice on job prospects in the many industries in Greater Boston, looking for the best coffee shops or even finding random performance venues that are not available on your favorite events websites, we may know a thing or two that newcomers have no access to.

How can alumni best build their professional networks?

LinkedIn and social networks are always the easiest way to connect. Of course, a local alumni group is best for reasons I mentioned earlier.

What are must-do iconic activities for alumni moving to or visiting Boston?

I always advise to immerse onself in the rich history of Boston. Many sites within walking distance downtown (via the Freedom Trail) give any visitor perspectives on the massive part Bostonians played in the formation of these united states. You can join guided tours hosted by local historians in period costumes, or do-it-yourself aided by google search. Attending at least one of the home games of the Boston Celtics, the Boston Bruins and the Boston Red Sox, whether you are a sports fan or not, will help newcomers appreciate the pride the city has. You can even venture out to Foxborough to see the New England Revolution and of course the New England Patriots. Any one of these teams will be hosting visiting teams throughout the year, depending on the time of the year. It is best to of course experience these with your new friends/connections.

Any former Wellingtonian is likely to have been fuelled on coffee. Where’s the best place to find a good brew?

I always try to find the mom and pop coffee shops, they are always the best in my opinion. Otherwise, downtown, there are a few coffee spots. Just across the Boston Common on Tremont St is The Thinking Cup. A few locals hang out here and also folks on their way to see off-broadway shows. On Washington St, there are two good ones: The Godfrey makes good brew, there is also Café Nero, a favorite hang out for college students working on their papers. They have a second shop right on Summer street right above the Downtown Crossing T station on the same building as Roche Brothers and Primark. Pete’s Coffee is also pretty good on the corner of Tremont and Winter Streets.

Kate Keith-Fitzgerald.

Kate Keith-Fitzgerald (BA Hons)

Linked In: Connect with Kate

Kate was born outside Philadelphia and has lived in the Boston area for almost five years.  She has worked in a number of different roles across various libraries and schools on the East Coast and is currently keeping busy with volunteering and substituting roles.  Kate completed her Bachelor of Arts in Classics at Randolph-Macon Woman's College in Virginia before undertaking her honours year at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington.  She also spent two years undertaking research towards a Master of Arts which was focused on the poet Pindar.  Kate also holds a Master of Information Science from the University of Michigan.

What are your top tips for alumni newly-arrived to Boston?

Get a library card at the BPL, spend some time walking around downtown and also riding the various T lines. They’re all great ways to see the city and walk around your new neighborhood. Boston has wonderful neighborhoods and a great public transit system.

How can alumni best build their professional networks?

Join your professional organizations and always keep talking and reaching out to people.

What are must-do iconic activities for alumni moving to or visiting Boston?

Spending a day around Boston Common, take a walk along the waterfront and a boat ride, visit the New England Aquarium. Walk around the Fenway area, go the MFA and also walk around Cambridge.

Any former Wellingtonian is likely to have been fuelled on coffee. Where’s the best place to find a good brew?

Lots of great options, I’m a tea drinker but when things open up again, I find the cafe at the Copley Branch of the Boston Public Library one of my favorites as well as Pavement, but there are lots of great local places.


Kevin Sabapathy (BCA/BSc)


Kevin has over 18 years’ experience working with technology for companies in New Zealand, Australia, and the US. Kevin is a project manager for the College of American Pathologists based in Chicago. In addition to his Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Science from Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington, Kevin also has an MBA from the University of Western Sydney. Find out more about Kevin and connect via his LinkedIn profile.

San Francisco

A head and shoulders photo of Zach Beardman.

Zach Beardman (BCA)


Zach completed a BCA in accounting and economics from Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington in 2008.  After graduation he spent six years working for EY, the first five of which were in Wellington before transferring to the company’s San Francisco office in 2015.  In 2016 Zach joined Google where he has held a number of different roles.  He is currently a Payments Product Manager.

Find out more about Zach on his LinkedIn profile, or take a look at the Bay Area alumni Facebook page.

Washington, D.C.

Portrait photograph.

Sara Morgan Watters (MSc)


Sara hails from the US but came to New Zealand to complete a Master of Science in Cross-cultural Psychology at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington in 2016. She completed her undergraduate degree in psychology at St Mary's College of Maryland.

Sara works as a program advisor for international internship and study abroad company Global Experiences Inc. based in Maryland and close to Washington, D.C.  She is an avid sailor and found New Zealand a great fit because it’s one of the few counties in the world where the sport of sailing is so celebrated.

Find out more about Sara in her Q&A, connect via LinkedIn, or check out the Washington, D.C. alumni group on LinkedIn.

Fraka Harmsen, BSc, PhD (Geology)
Director, United States Engagement

A woman smiling in a green top.


Dutch born Dr. Fraka Harmsen is an alumna of Victoria University of Wellington and former resident of Victoria House and Deputy Warden of Weir House. After leaving New Zealand in early 1984, she completed a National Science Foundation post-doctoral position in Geology at the University of Montana and conducted research at the University of Miami, Florida.

Fraka has significant experience in higher education having served as a Professor, Dean, Provost and Chief Academic Officer in the California State University system from 1985 to 2018. She has served on numerous committees including under the auspices of UNESCO, the Fulbright Commission, Public Broadcasting Service and the Council on Ocean Affairs, Science and Technology.

Since 2018, Fraka has served as our Director of Engagement in the U.S. and is keen to engage alumni and provide meaningful opportunities for volunteerism, service, and professional development.

“If you are interested in sharing your expertise, mentoring a student, supporting a student with their research, volunteering as an ambassador or giving financial support, please reach out to me.”

You can also help by letting people know about your personal journey at Victoria University of Wellington and the educational opportunities that exist at both the undergraduate and postgraduate level.

“We would love to have more USA students have the opportunity to study in Wellington.”

Find out more about Fraka and connect via LinkedIn.