Morris first interned with the Ministry of Marine Resources last February and later returned to New Zealand to complete her studies.
The ministry confirmed that Morris graduated in May attaining a Science degree in Ecology and Biodiversity with a double minor in Marine Biology and Pacific Studies from Victoria University, Wellington.
At the age of 22, she has now been working as an assistant Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) analyst in the Offshore Fisheries Division in the Oceans Monitoring Centre for about seven months.
“Victoria University has provided a lot of support in terms of assisting Pacific Islanders with their studies; the experiences and skills I have acquired from the university have been so rewarding. I completed my undergraduate degree at the end of 2018 and graduated in May.
“I chose to return home to the Cook Islands for work to provide support in giving back to my country - putting to use what I have learnt from abroad. I wish to gain more experience with the aspiration of furthering my studies in marine biology in future,” Morris said.
She is the first in her immediate family to complete a degree and hopes to encourage young Pacific Islanders to take the further step to study at university level as well as embrace the field of science.
“ Choose to do something that you completely love, make a plan and do your best to work towards it, no matter the trials and tribulations you may encounter; as many would say ‘you learn from your mistakes’. Like myself, I got the chance to change my many Cs into sometimes Bs and unexpected As! The reward is waiting for you. Te atua, te aroa,” she explained.
The ministry says that May was a big month for Morris who was the second staff member to join the crew of American Sailing School Vessel Brigantine Robert C. Seamans, run by the Sea Education Association (SEA) for a two week trip through the Cook Islands and to Tonga.
SEA is a leading non-profit, independent educational institution focused on environmental studies and the world’s oceans.
Morris says she is living her dream through the work she does.
“The love and passion I have for science has grown immensely while being with the Ministry, starting off with the wonderful work environment, a technical and interesting field of work, and the opportunities I have been given so far.”