Celebrating staff excellence at Manawatū graduation

Wednesday 8 May 2024

More than 900 new graduates crossed the stage in Palmerston North last week, including 14 members of the university’s staff whānau.

Last updated: Thursday 9 May 2024

A total of 979 graduates joined the Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa Massey University alumni whānau across six ceremonies, which included the conferral of 21 doctorates and 160 master’s degrees. Within this cohort was 14 Massey staff, who between them achieved one graduate diploma, four bachelor’s, three master’s, one executive master’s and five doctorates.

Rhea Hazners – Graduate Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety

Health, Safety and Wellbeing Advisor Rhea Hazners began her journey in health and safety over 35 years ago when she began working in the manufacturing environment at Sunbeam. Her interest in health and safety grew during her role as a Quality Assurance Inspector, which later evolved into Quality Assurance and Health and Safety Officer.

With no formal qualifications at the time, Ms Hazners says she recognised the importance of learning from others.

“I observed and gained first-hand knowledge from the skilled tradesmen, experienced supervisors and the specialised machine operators. This was invaluable and provided me opportunities to be involved and supported by management.”

After Sunbeam’s manufacturing closed in 2004, Ms Hazners began working at the University College of Learning, continuing in the field of health and safety until 2013 when she joined Massey, originally as the Campus Health and Safety Advisor.

While her role has changed over the years, she says the core of what she does remains consistent.

“I provide guidance and support to staff and students to help them understand the university’s health and safety policy and procedures, and how they might apply them locally. There are many other exciting aspects to my role, including identifying potential risks, conducting risk assessments with staff, performing workplace inspections, investigating workplace accidents and providing information and training for staff.”

For Ms Hazners, it’s the people that matter most.

“He aha te mea nui? He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata! For me, it’s always been about our people. We have recently introduced a risk programme where I work alongside workgroups, observing their environments, listening to their stories and learning about the good, the bad and the ugly of the tasks they carry out. This is powerful and the real deal. What I love most is working with people at the coalface to understand what is really going on, providing guidance and support to address the challenges they face and effecting positive change.”

In 2017, Ms Hazners decided to return to study and work towards a Graduate Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety, starting with one paper a year to fit in with full-time work. Having graduated last week, she says she’s learned a lot during her time with Massey.

“It was a rude awakening for me to pick up the art of studying again after 43 years away from the books! Juggling work and study was sometimes a struggle, and maintaining discipline and commitment to serious study periods was challenging. However, when I realised my study had become drawn out, I began to fast-track the last few courses so I could complete my diploma before turning 60 – which I achieved! I’ve learned to never take things at face-value, but to take or make time to listen, learn and understand what’s under the hood. You’re never too old to learn!”

Dr Lily Jia – Doctor of Philosophy

For College of Sciences Research Enhancement and Development Initiative (REaDI) Advisor Dr Lily Jia, her journey with Massey began as a student when she enrolled in a Master of Human Nutrition in 2012.

“I didn’t realise I was pregnant until a few weeks into my studies. Despite the challenges, I was inspired to research breastfeeding support after experiencing difficulties with my daughter. With the support of my lovely supervisor Dr Janet Weber, I completed a postgraduate diploma in human nutrition. Building on this qualification and my previous master’s in food nutrition and safety in China, I began my PhD study in 2015.”

Dr Jia describes her PhD as being a unique journey that required a high level of resilience.

“My PhD took longer than most due to various challenges, including ethics application issues, study design changes and restrictions on participant recruitment during COVID-19. I also had my two boys during my PhD!”

She began her role as a REaDI advisor part-time in 2021 before transitioning to a full-time position in 2022. REaDI is a researcher-centric initiative designed to support the development of researchers and the research community at Massey.

“I love organising workshops and other research development activities, as well as supporting our amazing researchers to achieve their development goals and succeed in their external research fund applications. I’m proud to contribute to the broader research landscape, alongside advancing my own research as an emerging researcher,” Dr Jia says.

Dr Jia’s thesis work will provide scientific evidence to women and health professionals on how to use galactagogues - substances thought to boost breast milk production - during breastfeeding.

“I explored how various galactagogues were used in Aotearoa, which are foods, herbs, supplements and medications suggested to increase breast milk production. I also conducted a randomised placebo-controlled trial to investigate the effect of brewer’s yeast on breast milk and breastfeeding.”

Reflecting on her journey, Dr Jia credits her project and time management skills, along with the support she received, for her success.

“Working flexible hours through Massey’s accommodating work pattern really helped me to manage my work and study. Massey has great people and a wonderful environment for study. I had support from my supervisor, my postgraduate leads from my school and the Graduate Research School, among the other amazing resources a student can access at Massey.”

Other graduate staff include:

  • Dr Fernando Avendano Veas – Doctor of Philosophy
  • Dr Corrin Hulls – Doctor of Philosophy
  • Dr Amelia Barker – Doctor of Philosophy
  • Dr Mengxiao Yang – Doctor of Philosophy
  • Professor Jon Huxley – Executive Master of Business Administration
  • Kallie Golding – Master of Business Studies (Human Resource Management)
  • Bridget Fordyce – Master of Counselling Studies
  • Leanne Reynolds – Master of Education (Digital Education)
  • Vikki Skinner – Bachelor of Veterinary Science
  • Dr Jonathan Godfrey – Bachelor of Accountancy
  • Moana Woods – Bachelor of Social Work
  • Olivia Buwalda – Bachelor of Engineering with Honours (Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering)

Related news

Embracing authenticity in social work

Tuesday 7 May 2024

Having embarked on a five-year academic journey, Bachelor of Social Work graduate CJ Kane began her path towards social work over a decade ago while working in the disability sector.

Honouring a lifetime of leadership with Massey Medal

Wednesday 1 May 2024

Philanthropist, veteran businessman and esteemed alumnus Bryan Mogridge ONZM has been awarded the university’s highest accolade, the Massey Medal, at Manawatū graduation this week.

Celebrating staff success at Auckland graduation

Thursday 25 May 2023

Nine members of staff were among those graduating across eight Auckland ceremonies this week.