Alumni Spotlight: Emily Scheller


Emily is from Wisconsin, USA. She received her Bachelors from the University of Wisconsin-Superior in Biology with an emphasis in Aquatic Biology and a minor in Earth Science. She is currently working towards her Masters in Marine Conservation at Victoria University of Wellington. She has a love for the ocean and continues to work towards conserving marine ecosystems.

Why did you choose this program?

I have always wanted to study abroad and was intrigued since it was a 1-year masters program. There is also no thesis component and instead, has multiple field courses that allow students to work on group and individual research projects.

I also wanted to learn about conservation in a different part of the world and chose a country that has a strong interest in conserving its native species.

What did your university assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

Once I was accepted into the program the university provided a check-list of things to be completed before coming to New Zealand which included getting a visa and submitting all paperwork to the financial office.

The university provided an international orientation so we were able to meet other international students right away and tour the campus. At the orientation, we also met a professor from our program who assisted us with choosing classes. I had to organize housing arrangements on my own but that's because I chose not to live in the campus housing.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

The program starts in either January or July. I would definitely recommend starting in January since the program begins with a field course and you are able to meet all the students in both the Masters of Conservation Biology and Masters of Marine Conservation programs. Enjoy every minute of it because the year goes by so fast!

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Depending on what classes you choose to take, you'll most likely be in class between 1-3 days a week and depending on the field courses you choose they run for 5 to 14 days at a time.

An example of a day at the University might include a class between 9am-12 pm with a two-hour study/lunch break and then another class 2 pm-5pm.

The 2-3 days per week without classes include volunteering and preparing for seminars and discussion. Additional work includes project work, preparing presentations, and writing assignments.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was traveling so far from home. Before coming to New Zealand, I had never lived more than 4 hours away from my family. Everyone here is so welcoming and once classes at University started I was very busy. Plus my family is only a phone call away.

I was also nervous about going back to school after taking two years off after getting my Bachelors degree. However, the professors here are extremely welcoming and encourage the success of the students.