A Norwegian student with a passion for conserving wildlife has earned a prestigious medal from the University of the Sunshine Coast for her exceptional academic results.
Tina Haagensen, 25, of the coastal city of Kristiansand in Norway’s south received a near-perfect Grade Point Average of 6.94 from a possible 7 during her Animal Ecology degree.
Tina, who is particularly interested in how animals move their bodies, said the key to her success over the three-year degree was to have a great love for what she was learning about.
“I would not have put in that much time and work if I wasn’t passionate about it,” she said.
“I’m also really passionate about teaching people about what I know, so I’d like to work somewhere I can share my knowledge with others.”
During her degree, Tina took fieldtrips to North Stradbroke Island, Fraser Island, Heron Island and several sites on the Sunshine Coast.
“To be given the opportunity to first learn how to do research hands-on as a first-year to then complete a project in the final year made such a big difference to the skillset I acquired from my degree,” Tina said.
“Seeing and learning about all the animals out there and how to protect them definitely fuelled my passion for conservation. It also showed me how to apply my knowledge in the ‘real world’ and that I can make a difference.”
Tina, who is currently studying Honours in Animal Biomechanics, said she was still deciding whether to begin work in animal ecology or to further her education with postgraduate studies.
“I really want to make a difference for the plight of endangered animals worldwide,” she said.
“We need to be realistic about the drastic changes that need to be made, but we need to stay positive if we want people to care about what we do.”
Tina’s academic success at USC is even more remarkable considering she had to adjust to university life, a new country and culture, and English being her second language.
“In Norway we learn English from when we are six years old, but academic language is so different, it’s almost like learning a third language in your second language. It probably took me a bit longer to understand the content at first, but hard work and a bit of Google Translate from time to time got me to where I am today”.
“The education system here is pretty different. I really like the way teachers engage with students; it really makes a difference to your learning,” she said.
“And my parents supported me from afar. They always said: ‘we are here for you no matter what. You know you can always quit and come home, but we know you can do it’.
“My advice to others would be to dream big, work hard, and be kind.”