My name is Aimee Caldwell and after completing five years at Otorohanga College 2004-2008, I went on to undertake University study. I studied a Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences which begins with the Health Sciences First Year course here at Otago. I then chose my major (Reproduction, Genetics and Development) for the next two years. I took a variety of papers from many departments including anatomy and physiology, genetics, biochemistry, microbiology, pathology and bioethics.


When I completed this Bachelor’s Degree with an overall mark higher than a B+, I was admitted to the Honours programme. This involved a one-year supervised research project ending in writing up a thesis. I chose a project investigating aspects of a sheep model of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and worked in conjunction with both the Anatomy Department and AgResearch Invermay.


I was lucky enough to secure two different options for further study in Australia – one being a Masters of Clinical Embryology at Monash University, Melbourne and the one I have chosen, which is a 3 year PhD position at the ANZAC Research Institute in Sydney. This project is all about the role of androgens in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. The research team I will be a part of have secured a grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia, from which I will be paid to conduct research.

Before I go, this summer I received a Health Sciences Summer Research Scholarship to carry out a small project which is an extension of what I did this year, essentially carrying out work we wished we had time for this year with a more genetics basis. I look forward to the challenges ahead and attending University in Sydney.

My name is Ashleigh Crum, and I attended Otorohanga College from 2005 to 2009. On completion of my 7th Form year I joined the Royal New Zealand Navy, entering Basic Common Training (or BCT’s as it is commonly known) on the 10th of January 2010. 

BCT’s is a 13 week course designed to turn you from your everyday civilian walking the streets into a lean, mean war-fighting machine. Not really, but it is used as a crash-course in basic Naval life, with everything from fitness and parade training to general cleaning being covered. After BCT’s finished in April of 2010, I went on to begin my Basic Branch Training (or BBT’s). As I had chosen to become an Electronics Technician, my BBT course was 13 months long, with a majority of the other trade trainings only taking 3 months. BBT’s is where you learn to perform in your chosen area of ship life. For myself, I gained credits towards a level 4 certificate in Electrotechnology, with the chance to complete this later in my career.

I finished my Branch Training in April 2011, and before posting to a ship I completed a month-long course covering Damage Control (so fires, floods and toxic gas situations on a ship) and Basic Mariner Training. I was lucky enough to sail with HMNZS Wellington to Napier for a week during this time, something that is not normally offered to those taking the course.

I was posted to HMNZS Te Kaha in June of 2011. Te Kaha is one of two ANZAC class Frigates in our Navy, with the ANZACs being our “war-fighting” ships. Te Kaha was the only sailing Frigate from 2011-2012 due to its sister ship Te Mana conducting a year-long maintenance period. My first trip on Te Kaha was to participate in the exercise Bersama Shield in October 2011, stopping first in Wellington for the Navy’s 70th Anniversary. Bersama Shield required us to sail to Sembawang, Singapore before proceeding to Lumut and Port Klang in Malaysia and Jakarta in Indonesia.

My second trip was for what is called a “Work Up” in February 2012. A Work Up is where the ship is tested in all sorts of different ways to determine her war-fighting capabilities, how ship’s company handles situations where they are under attack or have a damage control incident and how well the ship functions in stressful situations. This also means sailing around Australia, with stops in Sydney, Fremantle, Rockingham and Darwin.

My most recent trip with Te Kaha was to participate in the exercise Rim Of The Pacific, or RIMPAC, which is one of the worlds largest Naval Exercises, with 24 countries participating in 2012 (also seen on the movie Battleship). This was also the first time New Zealand had participated in 28 years, which was considered ground-breaking in terms of relations with the US. RIMPAC involved stops in Tonga, Pehryn Island and Hawaii before we sailed on to Guam (a small island near Japan) and Darwin, where we participated in exercise Kakadu. Brisbane was the last stop before arriving home on the 29th of September 2012.

As you can see, since joining I have been lucky enough to travel to many places not many people would normally go to, and been fortunate enough to meet people from a lot of different walks of life.

I am still posted to Te Kaha, and waiting for March 2013 when I begin my next course (14 months long) and start preparing to be promoted to the next rank, as well as gaining more credits at level 4. I will also be undertaking an IT course for further qualifications. I plan on changing to become a Weapons Technician as soon as I have completed my next course, which will give me the chance to travel to other countries to participate in further weapons training, as these courses are not available in New Zealand.