Georgia first became involved with the Society when she participated in Bronze and Silver CREST projects in middle school. Now she is a Prime Minister's Science Prize winner, a Duke University graduate and has just completed an internship with the Helen Clark Foundation - which has driven her new-found interest in policy research.
At the end of 2015, I was privileged with the honour of winning the 2015 Prime Minister’s Future Scientist Prize through the Royal Society Te Apārangi for my research. The whole experience was quite surreal. The ceremony, held in Wellington, was the same day as my level 3 NCEA Chemistry exam. I was based in Auckland at the time and so the Society kindly organised for me to take my exam at their offices in Wellington in the morning so that I could attend the ceremony with everyone else in the evening.
In 2016 I had the opportunity to present my research at the 2016 TedX Auckland Conference. I based my presentation on thinking outside the box when it came to sustainability and innovation.
Finding my way through university was a bit of a challenge at the start. I started out my academic journey at the University of Auckland, enrolled in a Biomedical Science degree. I initially hoped to go on to qualify for medical school. However, I struggled during the first few months of my degree as I quickly realised that, although I loved science wholeheartedly, I also had interests elsewhere that I wanted to explore. Many of my friends volunteered for UN Youth New Zealand and I loved spending my weekends with them at conferences and civic events.
In April of 2016, I saw my chance to explore these other interests when I received a Robertson Leadership Scholarship to attend Duke University in the United States. For what was probably the first time in my academic career, I gave myself the space to explore all of my interests and passions without worrying what it might mean for my future career. At Duke I fell in love with politics, international relations and governance. I found like-minded life-long friends in student government, mock trial and the university’s undergraduate conduct board and a mentor in a processor at Duke’s school for Public Policy.
I graduated from Duke University in 2020 with a degree in Political Science, International Comparative Studies and a minor in Arabic. I channelled the passion I had for scientific research into policy research and realised that the two were not all that dissimilar. In 2019, I worked with the Helen Clark Foundation on a paper advocating for drug policy reform in New Zealand in the lead up to the 2020 Cannabis Referendum. The internship was my first taste of policy research in New Zealand and I quickly realised this was the path I wanted to pursue after university.
Now that I am back in New Zealand I hope to explore opportunities available in governance and policy writing. I still enjoy volunteering for UN Youth New Zealand in my free time and seeing my friends outside of university. I’m constantly looking to push myself to try new things and keep an open mind to new opportunities as they present themselves.