Sam Webber

For Sam Webber, enrolling in a Bachelor of Science at the University seemed like a natural progression, and also gave him the opportunity to travel.

For Sam Webber, enrolling in a Bachelor of Science at Victoria University of Wellington seemed like a natural progression, and also gave him the opportunity to travel.

A fourth-year student, Sam has completed a Bachelor of Science with majors in Geology and Physical Geography, and is working towards his Master of Science specialising in Geology.

Getting mucky with geology

Sam’s journey to the University started when he was growing up on a farm in Nelson and spending most of his time mucking around outdoors. “I’ve always been into the environment so studying Geology seemed to make sense. The environment is run by the Earth’s system and I really wanted to get to the bottom of it. Geology was a way to get hands on, to get mucky again, to find an outlet for my creativity. The University has a great reputation for Geology, so it made sense to come here.”

Intellectual firepower

“University is a place where you can try out what you’re interested in, with extreme ease. You can come and test things out. And if you’re not sure, take a gamble. “There is incredible intellectual firepower here: a really strong group of internationally renowned academics who can help you realise your ability.”

Coloured pencils and hitting rocks

“I don’t think many people understand that Geology is about busting out the colouring–in pencils, getting out in the field, getting hands on. For me it’s the closest thing to being an explorer you could possibly be. “I go out and find a rock, hit it with a hammer, look at it under a lens and identify it, plot it on a map, and at the end of the day come back and map it and colour it in. It’s back to basics.”

Exploring the world

Sam’s studies have seen him climbing volcanoes in South America with a University field trip and helping measure glacier velocity in the Southern Alps with the Antarctic Research Centre. His Master’s will take him to Papau New Guinea to study faults. “We’re going to be bashing through jungle, getting the machetes out, choppering to mountain peaks and finding where the rivers are going and whether they’ve shifted, and where the fault is and how it’s moving.”

Karate and community

For Sam, a first–dan black belt in Seido Karate, there are strong parallels between his academic and sporting communities. “Once you’re at black belt level you’re supposed to be encouraging and teaching, instructing other people—giving energy and imparting your knowledge. So it’s a real community thing. Everyone’s there to help each other, but as a by-product you benefit yourself.”

Know your mind

“I think you need to know who you are. You need to be able to look in the mirror and not be completely surprised or upset by what you see. I can recall coming out of high school really wanting to understand myself. I guess that was one of the main motivations for coming to university—to put myself in a position where I could explore my own mind. I guess I found a perfect venue for that.”