Lucy Carter (Ngāi Tahu) was overwhelmed when she heard she had won a Fulbright Science and Innovation Graduate Award, which will enable her to complete a Master of Arts degree in Environmental Sociology at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, USA.

Lucy, 23, who affiliates to Ōraka Aparima, will travel to the United States on 11 August to attend a three-day gateway orientation programme at the University of Idaho.

“I’ve always been passionate about learning for the sake of learning, so getting the chance to complete my Master’s degree at a university that is a leader in the field of environmental sociology, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” says Lucy.

In Colorado, her studies will focus on social recovery and hazard mitigation in the event of natural disaster – a subject close to her heart having been in Christchurch throughout the city’s social and physical recovery following major earthquakes in 2010 and 2011.

“I have spent all my life in Christchurch so I have a big connection to this city and being a part of the city’s recovery has really struck a chord for me. It has spurred me on to learn how lessons learned in the Christchurch recovery may be applied to other communities in the event of a disaster.

“I’ve always been captivated by people and their social interactions and the macro-aspects of sociology applies very well to the analysis of environmental issues. And the human element of environmental issues can’t be separated out. The earthquakes have been a prime example of that. So, in short, the earthquakes have been a prime driver in my choice of specialist subject for my Master’s degree.”

Lucy also touched on the subject of earthquake disaster management in her final year at Otago University, where she graduated with a BA in Sociology in 2012.
Since November 2012, Lucy has been a member of the Toitū te Kāinga team at Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu in Christchurch, where she has enjoyed not only her role as project coordinator but also having the opportunity to learn more about her own heritage and culture.

“I was 15 before I knew I was affiliated to Ngāi Tahu, so this has been a great chance to find out much more about my own history and I will enjoy taking that with me to the United States and sharing it with other students there.”

Lucy will spend two years in the United States – “perhaps seven years if I get the chance to do my PhD” – and is looking forward to the challenge of settling in a new city.

“Moving to a country and to a city where I don’t know a single person is both scary and exciting but Colorado is a beautiful place, so I’m looking forward to exploring as much as I can while I’m there.”

Lucy Carter.

Lucy Carter.