It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks for graduates Amisha Verma and Shardul Abhyankar. Both students completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Health Science at EIT and Shardul was also awarded Best Tertiary Student at the 2019 “Asians in the Bay” event. These accolades were followed by a dream wedding in Napier.
Amisha and Shardul exchanged vows on a beautiful, sunny day on 12 August 2019 in front of a gathering of close family and friends. Set against the stunning backdrop of the Mission Estate Winery, the occasion marked the culmination of a special journey, including five years of study and hard work which led them to Hawke’s Bay, a place they now call home.
“Hawke’s Bay has treated us so well, the people have been really welcoming, which is one of the reasons we decided to get married here rather than in India. We have made so many great friends and we wanted them to share our special day,” says Amisha.
The wedding was a celebration and fusion of western, Indian and Māori culture. The bride wore a contemporary red dress for the ceremony and changed into a traditional Indian sari for the reception. EIT Professor and good friend David Tipene-Leach led the congregation in two karakia to bless Amisha and Shardul and the wedding dinner.
The newlyweds met in 2014 while studying for a Masters in Occupational Therapy at Manipal University in Karnataka, India. After two years of work experience in India, the couple set their sights on New Zealand to advance their practice and subsequently received their registration from the Occupational Therapy Board of New Zealand (OTBNZ). Rather than start work immediately, the duo were keen to gain a deeper understanding of professional practice within the New Zealand healthcare system. In particular they wanted to learn about bicultural competencies and embarked on the Postgraduate Diploma in Health Science at EIT in 2018.
Two courses in particular, the ‘Māori and Indigenous Health’ and ‘Health and Health Care in the Context of Aotearoa New Zealand’ modules helped both students to understand the landscape for Occupational Therapy in New Zealand. The regular support and experience of lecturers Professor David Tipene-Leach and Dr Anita Jagroop-Dearing proved invaluable.
“Shardul and Amisha embraced the ‘Māori and Indigenous Health’ course and the framework for equitable health outcomes with open hearts and authentic enquiring minds. Not surprisingly – they were top students!” says Professor Tipene-Leach.
The Postgraduate Diploma in Health Science programme also enabled both students to study an area of special interest, with Shardul focusing on the use of Māori cultural activities as a sensory integration tool within mental health. Passionate about working with children, Amisha studied conduct disorders, investigating bicultural alignment in health intervention programmes.
As well as immersing themselves in study and New Zealand culture, the couple are also giving back to the local community. Amisha and Shardul volunteer weekly at the Presbyterian Support East Coast Charity Shop in Napier. They were also asked by International Student Support Officer Song Sim to help out at a recent orientation workshop for new students. They really enjoyed answering questions from the incoming students and were happy to share their own experiences.
“We have seen the value of the help we have received from EIT International Student Support, Library Services and Operation Friendship. We would encourage new students to attend all the workshops they can, especially during the first two weeks of starting at EIT,” says Shardul.
There’s no standing still for this bright couple, who are now looking to the next phase of their careers and are busy applying for positions as occupational therapists. In their spare time they also plan to fit in more travelling, learn new skills and maybe even study together again in the future.