Graduate student profiles

Social work

Ai Sumihira

Medical Social Worker, Counties Manukau District Health Board, Middlemore Hospital

I decided to study social work after surviving the Sumatra tsunami and earthquake on Boxing Day in 2004. It was a life-changing moment for me. I lost a lot of family and friends that day.

In 2007, I came to New Zealand to study social work at Massey because of the university’s reputation and the global qualification. I lived in central Auckland and studied at the Albany campus, which is quite innovative and different from other facilities I have encountered. Because of the small class sizes and structured course, most of the students stayed together for the entire period of my study and we got to know each other and the teachers well. The teachers were really good, they knew my strengths and helped steer me. I am still in touch and they are still there to support me, even though I’m now working. There are some inspiring people there. My first placement in third year was in the Spinal Unit at Counties Manukau District Health Board. My second placement was at the Marine Education Centre on Auckland’s North Shore, which allowed me to draw on my background in outdoor education and work with young people.

I learnt that to be successful in social work, you need strong communication skills, the ability to think outside the box and, most importantly, a sense of fairness and compassion. You need sensitivity to the multicultural environment, especially in New Zealand, and an understanding of human rights. My parents live in Japan, but they came to New Zealand for my graduation. It was so cool – really, really special. I hadn’t seen my parents at all during my study. I now work at Middlemore Hospital, based in the general medicine ward. The patients I deal with are mostly older, with complex medical and social histories. I look after up to 10 patients at a time. My work hours are from 8am to 4:30pm.

I’ve found that social workers are always in demand. I think the social work profession is also inspiring and exciting! I feel privileged to be able to use my qualification to give back to the community.

Riki Niania

Manager of Public Health

The BSW programme is an excellent basis on which to advance one's working career and perspective on life. It provides an excellent opportunity to develop: sound analytical skills; knowledge around theory; an ability to work with people; and practical social work skills. Coupled with this is an excellent group of lecturers and teaching staff who provide support to students both inside and outside of lecture times. It is a whanau orientated programme that can lead to many opportunities. These learning outcomes help set the students up for a range of working opportunities both internal and external to the social work field. Since completing the BSW degree I have worked with NZCYPS as a Social Worker, at Polytech as a tutor of Sociology, at a hospital in Māori Health, and currently as Manager of Public Health in Wanganui. Much of my success I owe to the BSW programme and staff. It's well worth the four years of hard, but enjoyable, study.

Ann Andrew

Community development worker at the Highbury Whanau Resource Centre

Research manager for Barnardos and Massey University

As a mature student I completed the BSW degree with honours in 1998. I found the programme challenging and really worthwhile. The staff were extremely helpful and endeavoured to pass on the knowledge and the skills required so students would be competent in their professional practice as social workers. I am now currently employed in several part-time jobs which are described briefly below. As a community development worker at the Highbury Whanau Resource Centre, working with families and youth at risk as well as delivering programmes that promote healthy lifestyles and well-being. As a research manager for Barnardos and Massey University researching `what makes healthy families' by examining the factors that work and don't work for families/whanau in achieving the above. Within my practice I continue to learn and grow, each day brings something new.

Richard Shaw

Associate Professor and Assoc. Head of School in the School of People, Environment and Planning at Massey University

My qualification as a social worker gave my life a 'flying start'. I was able to get a decent job, earn some good money, and use my degree overseas. Shortly after graduating from Massey University, I left the country to travel to Europe. My first job in London was as a residential social worker. I worked for a year or so in a short-term foster home that was run by Barnardos. I then worked for another year as a health social worker in a big hospital on a geriatric ward. Much of the work had to do with ensuring that those people were able to remain living relatively independently in their own homes, although from time to time it was also necessary to arrange residential care for them. And finally, I worked for eighteen months in a social work team in central London that did all sorts of different things, from keeping kids safe from physical and emotional abuse to finding housing for homeless people. There's no doubt that the School of Social Work will give you a qualification that will help you to go places.

Nicky Stanley-Clarke

Massey Social Work lecturer

Juggling three jobs, having premature twins and being crushed by a cow and breaking both arms should be enough to put anyone off studying. But Nicky Stanley-Clarke was determined not to let anything get in the way of completing her PhD. She began her doctorate in 2005, and graduated in November 2013 – the same day her twins, who were IVF miracles, turned five. There have been many obstacles for Nicky to overcome since she started her PhD and she had to put it on hold twice – first when she was crushed by a cow and broke both arms. Then again in 2008 when she gave birth to twin daughters who arrived prematurely at 32 ½ weeks. But her perseverance paid off, and now she is a social work lecturer at Massey.  She first studied for her Bachelor of Social Work at Massey in 1993. She worked as a frontline social worker for Child, Youth and Family for several years, completed her master’s with Massey, then moved into mental health, devising policy and reviewing services. Nicky decided to pursue her PhD to understand service development in statutory mental health organisations in New Zealand, and what motivates decision-making. “The aim of the guide (developed within her PhD) is to help makes things happen, to cut through the complexities that go on behind the scenes. If someone’s got something they’re really passionate about, and want to get it implemented, then they can follow these steps, and it’ll make the process easier.”

Read about Nicky's Massey journey in Good Health magazine.  NIcky Stanley Clarke Good Health mag article (1,186 KB)

Social policy 

Philip Bronn

PHD Student

Hi, my name is Philip Bronn. I am originally from London, England, and I have been tutoring/marking in the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work since 2001. Currently I am undertaking my PhD. Having spent some years investigating issues connected with the third way and left wing renewal, I decided to turn my attention to the opposite side of the coin: right wing renewal. My study involves a comparative analysis of the renewal strategies of the National Party of New Zealand and the Conservative Party in Great Britain. Both parties, as you are probably aware, are languishing in the polls, and are in dire need of rejuvenation.

Gavin Sagar

Business Analyst - Inland Revenue Department

Doing a BA allows you to challenge and broaden your mind. Sure, you focus on specific areas, but it also allows you the flexibility to choose courses from other disciplines (such as economics, anthropology, religious studies etc) which can complement, and sometimes challenge, your major.

I see my BA as being like a toolbox, full of different tools which will, and has, allowed me to function effectively in the working world. For me a BA does not just mean Bachelor of Arts: it represents and promotes more. It's like a universal key that can unlock many doors on the outside world. It teaches you how to think and learn, and how to apply these skills to whatever you choose to do.


Hear what our graduates have to say

Massey Contact Centre Mon - Fri 8:30am to 5:00pm 0800 MASSEY (+64 6 350 5701) TXT 5222 Web chat Staff Alumni News Māori @ Massey