Future beckons for Engineering student

posted: 6:00 pm - 18th October 2020
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(Picture caption: Fijian Civil and Environmental Engineering student Jalesi Nakarawa wants to inspire other Pacific youth to pursue a career in STEM.) 

A bright future beckons for final year Civil and Environmental Engineering student Jalesi Nakarawa.

Jalesi, a recipient of a Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) Toloa Tertiary Scholarship, has signed a graduate role with AECOM, a leading engineering consultancy, and he is set to start the role in February 2021.

As he nears the end of his studies at the University of Auckland, Jalesi has established the goal of using his hard-earned degree to help Pacific peoples and society.  

“I plan to be involved in large infrastructure projects that involve complex hydraulic components, which will allow me to use what I have learnt at university to solve these issues,” Jalesi says.

“I also aim to be involved in projects concerning the environment as I am passionate about keeping the environment clean and making sure
these large-scale infrastructure projects do not damage the environment.”

He says Pacific people are over-represented in the construction industry but under-represented in leadership roles within the industry.

“I believe seeing more Pacific peoples in leadership roles in the industry will inspire younger Pacific students to pursue a career in STEM.

“Pacific people bring a unique perspective to the STEM industry as our culture and upbringing can help in solving problems in the industry.”

He says receiving a Toloa Tertiary Scholarship in his fourth and final year of study has made a huge impact on his life.

The scholarship initiative supports Pacific students to pursue studies in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) subjects.

“It paid off my final year of study, which allowed me to focus on finishing my degree without worrying about any financial burdens.

“It also made my family super proud of me and what I've accomplished thus far.”

Born in Fiji, Jalesi and his family relocated to Hamilton when he was young.

He grew up with his seven siblings in a lower-middle class family and is the first in his family to finish high school and attend university.

Jalesi is motivated to inspire his siblings and other youth to aim high to reach their goals, he adds.

“I aim to inspire Pacific youth and show them that pursuing a career in STEM is not out of their reach.

“I want to become involved in the recruitment team in hopes of pursuing Pacific youth currently in STEM to intern at my future workplace.

“I was a mentor for Māoriand Pacific students who are in their first year of Engineering at the University of Auckland and would like to continue this as I enter the industry.”

Any Pacific people interested in studying STEM subjects at tertiary level can apply for a 2021 Toloa Tertiary Scholarship.

The end goal of the Ministry is to increase the number of Pacific people employed in STEM careers.

Applications close on October 23. For more information and to apply, visit MPP.