An event in Auckland has given Edinburgh alumni living in New Zealand the chance to network and exchange ideas.
Dr Rowena Arshad OBE, Head of Moray House School of Education and Co-Director of the Centre for Education for Racial Equality in Scotland, joined the graduates at the city’s Pullman Hotel where she provided an update on recent developments at the University, and discussed the ways in which alumni can get involved with the University’s activities.
"It was a real pleasure to host brunch for University of Edinburgh Alumni in Auckland,” says Dr Arshad. “It was uplifting to hear how fondly they remembered their time at the University. There was also so much goodwill to assist, mentor and support future graduates of the University who settle in Auckland and wider New Zealand. There was a real buzz at the event, and as people connected with each other there were clear signs of professional networking with business cards being exchanged!"
Alumni from a broad array of disciplines attended, and for many this was their first University event since graduation, giving them an excellent opportunity to begin building a network of fellow alumni in their local area. And for the University it was a vital chance to connect with alumni in a location we rarely have the opportunity to visit.
One alumna who attended was Dr Elizabeth Peterson, who graduated from the University in 2000 with an MSc in Social Science and again in 2003 with a PhD in Psychology. She spoke about her time at Edinburgh and how much she enjoyed the event.
“I wanted to do a PhD overseas, so I started to look around the UK and the USA for supervisors who I thought might be prepared to supervise the area of research I was interested in," she said. "I found Professor Ian Deary’s research online, and was really impressed by it, so I summoned my courage and phoned him up in the middle of the night - New Zealand time - and things fell into place from there. I didn't realise it at the time, but I made an excellent choice: he was a great supervisor and we still keep in touch.
"Getting off the train at night and walking up to the postgraduate halls of residence on the Royal Mile, and seeing the castle all lit up, was something I loved. No matter how tired or grumpy I was, seeing the castle lights always made me smile and appreciate how lucky I was to be in Edinburgh doing a PhD, despite being a long way from home. My front door in the halls was also next to where the temporary Scottish Parliament was (literally 10 metres from it), so that was also a claim to fame: living next to the parliament - you can’t do that in many countries, and with not a security guard in sight!
"I was curious to attend the gathering in Auckland. I had never been to an alumni event and didn't know what to expect. I thought it would be nice to meet other graduates, and wanted to meet Dr Arshad, as she has done some interesting research that seemed to relate to some of the work that I do.
"I usually come back to Edinburgh every three years as part of my sabbatical. It would be nice to make the most of those trips, to not just meet up with old friends and my supervisor, but to make new connections as well.”
Another alumnus who attended was Symon Tait. Symon graduated from the University in 2008 with an MENG in Mechanical Engineering and reminisced fondly about his time at Edinburgh.
He said: “I was born and raised in Edinburgh and grew up not far from King’s Buildings. I was certain that I wanted to study Engineering and knew that the University’s School of Engineering had an excellent reputation. I therefore didn’t think twice about staying in town to study there.
"I miss being part of a university and city with so much history, beauty and grandeur. Life then took me to the other side of the world: New Zealand. I have family ties here, so have always had a connection with the country. I took up an Engineering role with Air New Zealand and I’m still with the company today.
"I read the Enlightened newsletter, but have always felt a little distanced from the University as I have never noticed or heard of any connections in Auckland - so the gathering was a great opportunity to reconnect with the University and to find out how many other alumni were in the city.
"After the idea was brought up at the gathering, I am interested in the prospect of getting in touch with and meeting current students or new graduates that are moving to Auckland. I would like to be able to offer some support or advice to make the big move a little easier.”
If you would like to find out if there is an alumni club or group in your area, please visit the dedicated webpages:
If you would like further information, please get in touch with Emily Bateman, Global Alumni Coordinator.