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Te Tari Moromoroiti me te Ārai Mate

Tom Devine awarded Fulbright Scholarship

Posted by on 13 August 2020 | Comments

Congratulations Tom Devine, Assistant Research Fellow in the Department who is a recipient of a 2020 Fulbright Science and Innovation Scholarship. Tom will complete a Master of Public Health specialising in Sociomedical Sciences and History, Ethics and Law at Columbia University in New York City, New York. Tom graduated with a BSc in Microbiology (Hons First Class).


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Established in the USA in 1948, the Fulbright programme is one of the largest and most significant educational exchanges of scholars in the world.

Fostering academic excellence and people to people connection, the Fulbright programme seeks to “bring a little more knowledge, a little more reason, and a little more compassion into world affairs,” says Penelope Borland, Executive Director of Fulbright New Zealand.

Ms Borland says COVID-19 has meant the organisation has had to “flex with the current global situation”. Some 2020 grantees will have to start their programmes online, joining other Fulbright scholars from around the globe in virtual study, while others will take up their awards at a later date.

In total, 49 New Zealanders and US graduate students, scholars, artists and professionals have been granted an award in 2020.

No stranger to hard work – Devine finished his schooling as Dux at Whanganui’s St Dominic’s College – he knuckled down and gained First Class Honours.

Microbiology allowed him to put his mind to what he cares about – fighting health inequality in New Zealand. His research has looked at tuberculosis in the Māori population and will continue on a similar vein at Columbia; he plans to study the implications a global pandemic such as Covid-19 has on indigenous self-determination and autonomy, and where it fits in the grander scheme of a united public health response.

“I believe Māori will lead New Zealand into the future, and therefore solution-focused and equitable outcomes that valorise culture, language and traditional knowledge will play a significant role in nurturing the future of Māori people.”

Choosing Columbia University was easy, he says, as its Public Health school is ranked third best in the US with a programme known to be “very innovative and multi-faceted”.

“It will allow me to minor in history, law and ethics as well as carry out a placement of my choosing. I want to work directly with Native American communities. And, of course, it's in New York City.”

Following his time in New York, Devine hopes to continue his research on indigenous development and study a Masters of Public Policy in the UK.