Siona made rapid progress in boxing, ranking 12th in world in the flyweight category in 2011. The following year, she and a teammate became the first women to represent New Zealand in an Olympic Games.
After her success as a boxer, Siona needed a career that supported her financially. New Zealand offered an academic degree in sport and exercise that matched her passion, experience and desire to learn.
“The question I asked myself was, ‘What opportunities can New Zealand give me that I couldn’t get back home?’” says Siona.
“The answer was sport and physical activity.”
In 2014, Siona started studying for a Master in Health Science at AUT. She is now writing her Masters’ thesis on Indian participation in sports and physical activity.
“In India, education is mainly about developing a capacity for memory and retention of knowledge. Studying in New Zealand has helped me to develop and apply my critical and creative thinking, and has given me opportunities to try different fields of work,” she says.
“I’ve learned to think outside the box and to express my thinking.”
Siona has also enjoyed the relationship she has had with her supervisors, particularly Associate Professor Erica Hinckson. She says she has been given great support at AUT to achieve her academic pursuits.
“My perception of the education here is that it has been very practical and can be applied to my current profession in health and fitness industry. Through my research topic of working with Indians’ participation in sport in New Zealand, I have been able to expand my thinking towards community sports participation,” says Siona.
“I hope my education and experience will bring me opportunities to develop a career in my passion, which is for New Zealand systems in areas like healthcare and sport to become more culturally responsive to Indians living here.”
You can continue following Siona’s experiences in New Zealand by checking out her blog: www.beingsiona.com