Grace’s advice for niu students is to reflect on what it they want to achieve, look at the steps they need to take and to be intentional about what they do.
Full name: Grace Makereta Joy Sotutu
Degree: Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Development Studies, with a minor in French
Current Role: Intern with Student Life International
Place of Birth: Suva, Fiji
Ethnicity: Fijian and NZ European
Place in Family: Eldest of four children to parents Ray and Vili Sotutu
Grace is a second generation University graduate, with her parents having met and graduated at a New Zealand university. It follows that Grace always ‘knew’ she would go to university also.
Exploring new places, writing and trying new things (especially in the kitchen) are Grace’s pastimes, and she has a strong sense of social justice and faith. These perhaps led easily into her study choices at Victoria University of Wellington, International Relations and Development Studies, with a minor in French. Grace enjoyed the flexibility of the Bachelor of Arts which allowed her to explore many topics of interest within her wider subjects.
Some of Grace’s favourite papers while at University were GEOG 312 Race, Gender and Development, taught by Dr Sara Kindon, and Radical Thinkers and Emancipatory Politics, with Dr Kate Schick. She also recalls that in a development studies class, there was a particular case study of local development that showed parallels pre-intervention with her Father’s village of Bua, Vanua Levu, in Fiji, and she immediately saw the potential benefits for communities like Bua.
Grace got involved with many aspects of university life throughout her studies. She published in the student magazine, Salient, was a member of Kai Fiji Students’ Association, the French Club and Student Life, and was a PASS (Peer Assisted Study Sessions) leader for POLS courses. Grace also received a Rooftops scholarship, which encourages students to use media to engage with contemporary issues from a faith perspective.
Of her decision to study at tertiary level, she says it was “strategic”.
“If you have the opportunity and the drive, then it’s a valuable process, not only for the expertise gained, but also the doors it will open and the influence you can have at a societal level.”
Grace loved the diversity of students, ages, cultures and nationality at University. The open spaces, conducive to interaction outside of class, were a highlight.
Grace’s advice for niu students is to “reflect on what it is you want to achieve in this year, then look at ‘what are the steps I need to take’ and ‘who can keep me accountable’. Be intentional about what you are doing.”
“Also, learning what to say ‘no’ to, and prioritising well, are important in being able to achieve balance.”