Building a lab career meant going back on campus

Laboratory Technician Arie Figueras

Laboratory Technician Arie Figueras

As we continue our profiles on staff who are continuing their education and professional development, we recently had a kōrero with Auckland-based Laboratory Technician Arie Figueras, who was awarded an Awanui Educational Scholarship to gain her graduate diploma and is building her career in Biochemistry.

For Arie Figueras, receiving an Awanui scholarship and the end of the pandemic meant getting used to being back on campus.

“It was exciting to be back at university with the other students although I did have to get used to being with the younger people.”

Arie’s laboratory career began in the Philippines. She trained as a Medical Laboratory Technologist and completed her Bachelor in Medical Laboratory Science at Saint Louis University in Baguio City, before coming to New Zealand and joining Awanui in 2019.

“I could not register as a Medical Laboratory Scientist in New Zealand as I needed the equivalent qualification here. I heard about the scholarship fund from a colleague and they advised me to apply. I applied for the scholarship in 2021 and started the Graduate Diploma in Science course at AUT in the same year.”

Arie studied part time, taking one paper each term while working full time, and finished the course after two and a half years.

“When the COVID-19 restrictions lifted, I was able to attend university, which meant being on campus, classroom learning and doing things like actually going to the library again. The challenge was going to university in the morning and then straight to work in the laboratory, but I really enjoyed the experience, and I had a lot of support from my Biochemistry team and my manager Lisa Aspin.

“Lisa and the team were really accommodating with my class times, which made a real difference, as did my scientist colleagues helping me with my essays and assignments. They showed me what to focus on, what reading materials were useful, and gave me great advice. Most are also AUT graduates themselves so they are familiar with the course and what is required.”

Arie graduates in August 2023 and has now received her registration in New Zealand as a Medical Laboratory Scientist.

“I am happy to have accepted the Interim Scientist position at Awanui and continue to work towards my full registration. It is great working in Biochemistry, especially how it has become fully automated, but the machines can play up though. They are not perfect and can disrupt your workflow, which is challenging, but I enjoy it as it sharpens my skills and knowledge.”

Arie’s advice is to encourage anyone at Awanui planning on studying to apply for the scholarship. “It is a lot to work and study full time but it is worth it in the end if you want to progress and pursue your career.

“Going back to university boosted my confidence to step up at work and I recommend others who aspire to become a Medical Laboratory Scientist to give it a go. There are more opportunities out there for me now and I cannot wait for what comes next.”

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