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Executive 2018

Meet Tash – President 2015

tashWho is Tash Austin?

Kia Ora! Originally from Invercargill, I made my way into Med via the ‘other’ category with an undergrad in Genetics and Pharmacology and a Masters in Genetics (whew!). After all that study I fled the country to go on my big OE. It began with teaching English in Japan and ended nearly 4 years later with teaching Science and Maths in the Middle East! As much as I loved traveling and will probably never kick the wanderlust I am stoked to be home. And after nearly 8 years in Dunedin I’m almost a local!

Medicine was a bit of a direction change for you, can you tell us how it came about?

After finishing my research masters I was still loving Genetics but was no longer a huge fan of working in a strictly research environment. I wanted to get out and interact with the people who were involved in our research and help on a more personal level. I started looking at clinical genetics as a career path and realised the best way toward that goal was a medical degree. After a bit of a break and some travel I applied to come back and was lucky enough to be accepted. I am still hoping to work with Genetics in the future but for the moment I am loving learning about all the different aspects of medicine.

Why did you decide to run for President?

Last year I was involved in NZ Medical Students Association (NZMSA) as the Dunedin Pre-Clinical rep. I really enjoyed seeing how the different medical schools worked together on a national level. And how NZMSA interacted in the international community. One thing I am really interested in is bridging the gaps between the different campuses and seeing our students interact more. There is so much we can pull from each other. This year is going to be a really exciting one!

What are the best things about OUMSA?

OUMSA is solely student run. It is amazing to see just how much time, effort and commitment everyone puts in to ensure the year is an amazing one for their classmates. Every event involves hours of volunteer work and the results are amazing! One of the best things about OUMSA is that there is something for everyone. If you’re not into getting a bit crazy at the steins there are the fab Med Tramp and Ski Trips. And if the outdoors aren’t your thing then there are a number of quiz nights through out the year or the Med review and Med choir to show off your talents. Everything from the Teddybear Hospital to Knitting for NICU is run by the students. There is nothing to stop you getting involved!

What was your most memorable experience of 2nd year?

I definitely have a few! Orientation was one of the highlights. I was pretty nervous coming back to Dunedin after all my friends had already moved on but all that went out the window with orientation. The whole week was amazing and we had a great group who made everything really fun. Another highlight was Med Tramp. The trip was well run, with different tramps for every level from beginner to experienced. The dinner and drinks afterwards were well earned and we even managed to get the hut warden in on the festivities. Horse races anyone?

But overall I would have to say the best thing was just meeting so many new and amazing people. I’m not sure what I was expecting but it definitely exceeded anything I could have thought of! The class is chocka full of interesting people who really go out of their way to help each other out. Talk to those around you in classes, you’ll be surprised who you meet!

What are you most looking forward to this year?

We have a couple of big projects we want to get underway with this year. Peer mentoring is going to be a huge one, student wellbeing and education opportunities outside of school will be big as well. We want to work together with the Auckland and Australian Students association to improve our access to resources and increase attendance at each others events. I’m really looking forward to seeing as many students as possible get involved in the student council (watch our facebook page for election details early in the year!). I also want to see more Otago students utilising the Student Innovation Fund run by NZMSA to start their own projects. We can help provide money and guidance to get things started, just come and chat to us about your idea.

How can students make things easier for themselves this year?

There is no way to sugar-coat it, Medicine is a tough course! You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t have the academic record but you’d be a fool to think you can get through it alone and in one piece! Get amongst the note sharing, help each other out and form study groups (even if those groups meet over lunch and a beverage or two). This will keep you sane! Everyone has different strengths and ways of dealing with things, keep your friends close and keep an eye on each other. Also just get out and have fun. If you keep on top of study through out the year their will be plenty of time to get involved with the different activities on campus and off. Just remember unless you have superpowers, August is too late to crack open the books.

How do you enjoy your downtime outside of Med School?

I love the outdoors; tramping, running, fishing. Any weekend I can get outdoors is a good one! I also enjoy swimming and travel. Dunedin has a lot to offer and there are some amazing day and overnight tramps in the area. I’m an active member of the Otago University Tramping Club (OUTC) and would encourage everyone to check out the different clubs OUSA has to offer. There is no better time to get involved, just do it!


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