There will be double celebrations for Elizabeth McKay this year as not only is she graduating with a Master in Health Science from EIT, but she is also expecting her second child next month.
Elizabeth, who received her postgraduate degree in April, will receive her Master in Health Science at EIT Hawke’s Bay’s graduation ceremony at the Napier Municipal Theatre on Friday, 09 September.
Elizabeth, 34, has come a long way since she enrolled in EIT’s Bachelor of Sport and Recreation in 2007, having finished Year 13 at Havelock North High School the year before. An avid racewalker at high school – good enough to have gone to the New Zealand Athletics and Long-Distance Nationals – Elizabeth is also an accomplished cyclist, having won an east coast mountain biking championship in 2010.
So, it made sense that her passion for sport would lead her to pursue a career in it.
“I really enjoyed my three year’s studying the degree and the lecturers were like family. We weren’t just bums on seats; it was a real whānau -based learning environment.”
After her degree, Elizabeth completed a graduate diploma in teaching from Massey University (but on campus at EIT) before going to work as a teacher at Tamatea High School.
She taught there from 2013 to 2016 but left when she was pregnant with her first child, who was born in 2017. She spent the next few years caring for him, but having her son was extra motivation for Elizabeth to study further for her master’s degree and she returned to EIT in 2020 to start her postgraduate journey.
“The driving force behind the masters was to be more qualified so I could increase my career opportunities so that my son and I could have a better life.”
To help her on her way, Elizabeth was awarded the EIT Master of Health Science Scholarship, which is awarded by EIT’s School of Health and Sport Science, in collaboration with the EIT Institute of Sport and Health (EIT ISH).
“I applied for the scholarship just when COVID-19 was coming to New Zealand and was lucky enough to receive it. This allowed me to conduct research for my postgraduate degree.”
The title of Elizabeth’s Master’s thesis was The effects of strength and balance training using a Rock-it Board. The study investigated the effectiveness of a Rock-it Board training programme for developing strength and balance to help prevent falls in an older population.
She loved working on her thesis but found it tough going at times thanks to COVID-19, which ultimately led her to taking longer to finish.
“My plan had been to finish my master’s by November last year, but when we had that lockdown in September, it meant that I could not retest my subjects, which was an important part of my research.”
For now, Elizabeth is preparing for graduation and the birth of her baby with her new fiancé.
“I am living on a lifestyle block in Hawke’s Bay where my primary focus at the moment is to enjoy my wonderful family and to immerse myself in rural living. I believe that there will be a PhD in my future, but for now, it is all about my whānau.”
Elizabeth has ambitions to teach in the tertiary sector and would love to one day work alongside the staff in the EIT (soon to be Te Pūkenga) School of Health and Sport Science, like her mentor, Associate Professor Carl Paton.
Carl says: “Congratulations to Lizzy on achieving her postgraduate degree. It has been my privilege to be involved in Lizzy’s journey and I have seen the hard work and sacrifices she has made to achieve her goals. I wish her well for the future.”