High honours for Tongan science student

A Tongan science student has been awarded one of Massey University’s top honours.

Siaosi Koloamatangi was named a Massey Scholar when he graduated in Auckland last week with a Bachelor of Science.

The title ‘Massey Scholar’ is awarded only to the top 5% of students and provides funding for further study.

Siaosi says science wasn’t his first love. “At school I was into english and history but everyone in my family is into that so I decided to try something different in my final year and switch to science. It was hard at first put I’ve really grown to enjoy it.”  Going to University was always on the cards for Siaosi whose father is well known academic Associate Professor Malakai Koloamatangi, Pasifika Director at Massey. “Mum and Dad didn’t pressure me but they did encourage me to create my own pathway.”

After high school at St Thomas of Canterbury College in Christchurch, Siaosi started his Bachelor of Science at Canterbury University, but switched to Massey University after moving to Auckland.

The change in University also led him to move from biochemistry to genetics, a field he’s now thriving in.

Very few of his fellow students are Pasifika or Māori and that’s something he’d like to see change. He helps tutor at homework centres in South Auckland where he encourages students to try science. “I think there are misconceptions about science.  Kids think it’s too hard without really knowing much about it.”  Siaosi also believes some Pasifika people may worry that science conflicts with their religious beliefs.  “I think it can strengthen your faith especially when you see there are still things that can’t be explained by science”.

Siaosi is continuing his studies with an honours year at Massey University where he’s looking into specific proteins that could be useful in cancer research a field he hopes to continue to work in.


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