Top humanities and social sciences talent celebrated


Virginia Boyd with Pro Vice-Chancellor Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley at the Manawatū campus Outstanding Achiever Awards


The value of travel, pursuing creative passions and volunteer work alongside academic goals were among the experiences shared by top humanities and social sciences students celebrated at ceremonies across Massey’s three campuses in recent weeks.

Virginia Boyd was one of the 47 top undergraduate students from over 5000 in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences to receive an Outstanding Achiever Award last month for gaining the highest grade-point average. 

In a speech at the Manawatū campus ceremony – the third and final in the series – the Bachelor of Arts (English and History) student spoke about the importance of embracing life experiences alongside study. In 2015, while enrolled at Massey, she travelled with a youth organisation to Turkey where she worked in a camp caring for Syrian refugees. She says she had been concerned about the Syrian crisis for years and struggled with what she could do.

Last year, through her studies in Spanish language at Massey, she travelled to Colombia with 12 other Massey students on a Prime Minister’s Scholarship to Latin America, where she embraced the richness of learning about different culture, as well as that of her indigenous peers on the trip, from Māori Studies and the Bachelor of Māori Visual Arts programmes.

The Feilding woman says during her four years at Massey, she was inspired to achieve beyond what she thought possible thanks to engaging and supportive teaching staff.

Professor Paul Spoonley with Outstanding Achiever Award recipients at the Wellington campus


Combining study, work, music and travel - a rich education

At the Wellington campus, Outstanding Achiever and BA distance student Hamish Dick said combining an exciting globe-trotting life based in Edinburgh as a touring musician with distance study and a bevy of interesting jobs – including working for an MP in the Scottish National Party on the independence campaign in a role which took him to Westminster – was a brilliant way to get an enriching education. 

“What I really appreciated was that it [studying politics and English literature by distance] gave me a different perspective on what I was seeing around me at the time,” says Hamish, who toured Britain and Europe with a competitive pipe band throughout his studies.

“I credit Massey University for providing not only the quality tutors and lecturers who have helped direct my education over the past three years, but also for providing me with the opportunity to have an education unlike any other. That is, the opportunity to live and work abroad, experiencing the ‘real world’ first hand, while competing with my pipe band across Scotland and Ireland, travelling Britain and Europe, and making some of the best friends I have ever known,” Hamish said in his speech.

Award recipients with staff pictured at the Auckland campus Outstanding Achiever Awards event


Teaching excellence recognised

Pro Vice-Chancellor for the college, Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley, said in his introduction at each ceremony that; “Most years I meet with and engage with students at some of the top institutions around the world – the University of California Berkeley, the University of Oxford and Max Planck Institute in Germany – and you are as good as those students in terms of your study skills. I am really proud of our students and you have shown how good you are. Don’t be modest about your achievements.”

Staff were also recognised at each event, with the Teaching Excellence Awards:

2017 Sustained Excellence Award (Team or individual)

Mr Stephen Duffin and Professor Bill Fish (School of Humanities)

The philosophy lecturers were commended for their “playful, creative and innovative” way of engaging students enrolled in the Tu Arohae: Critical ThinkingBA core paper, through the development of entertaining, scholarly introduction videos each week to make learning new concepts accessible to internal and distance students. 

2017 Innovation and Excellence Award (Team or individual):

Dr Maggie Hartnett and Dr Peter Rawlins (Institute of Education)

The pair were lauded for leading an innovative team approach to postgraduate professional inquiry, including the use of digital badges to help students stay on track. Their approach reflected a “broad, inclusive definition of blended learning…developing a learning community and a strong emphasis on ethical practice.”

Dr Ella Kahu (School of Psychology)

Dr Kahu was recognised for her role in teaching BA core paper Tūrangawaewae: Identity and Belonging in Aotearoa New Zealandthrough online video tutorials, a weekly e-newsletter and fostering a high level of student engagement via reflective accounts of learning. 

2017 Teaching Support Award:

Dr Helen Dollery (People, Environment and Planning)

Dr Dollery was praised for providing opportunities for students to engage in critical reflection, for her intense, individualised feedback and for encouraging students’ academic voices to flourish.

Ms Raquel Direnzo (School of Humanities)

Ms Direnzo was recognised for her skills, enthusiasm and commitment in developing a community of learning for Spanish Language students, through engaging activities such as the Spanish Supper Series.

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