“When the going gets tough, the tough get going”
With the heart of a true Samoan young woman wanting the best for her country and the future generations to come, the intelligent Ms. Amy Maslen-Miller is featured as the April issue for the #hervoice empowering project. Ms. Maslen-Miller was born and raised in New Zealand her entire life and recently moved to Samoa for the pursuing of her career in the field of biological science at the Scientific Research Organization of Samoa (SROS). The 24 years old is a splendid graduate from The University of Auckland with a Bachelor, Postgrad and Master’s Degree in Biological Science; upholding and fulfilling her passion in the arena of scientific development not only for herself but for Samoa as a whole.
As a young woman, our Samoan Scientist shared with us her story on how she became the person that she is today. Stated that it was during her University days she truly experienced the biggest challenges of her life, due to the reasons that the Māori and Pacifica students were such a minority group, especially in the science field. Amy asserted how this problem was pretty obvious whereby students in the science arena with Pacifica and Māori origin tends to dwindle out in the first two weeks of the course. With this, it impacted on her negatively as one of the few Polynesian girls that was still enrolled in the course, making her frustrated towards her Pacifica peers. Apart from academics, Ms.Maslen-Miller was also confronted with her own personal problems. Stating that sometimes she doubts herself a lot and questioned; “maybe it’s because I am a Samoan woman?” Her doubts are also inter-related with her academic situations as one of the few Poly students enrolled in a course dominated by palagis.
Nevertheless, after every storm the sun will smile for every complexity there is a solution. And Amy expressed her gratitude to the Tuākana Program which enhances the academic success of Māori and Pacifica students in terms of guidance and tutorials. Emphasizing how it was a welcoming environment due to reasons that she could relate to the people, helpful, always have the best intentions and is indeed a strong support base for Pacifica and Māori students. Amy shared how the group really helped her overcome her unsettlement stating “I think I would’ve dropped out it wasn’t for them”.
Apart from her academic journey, Ms.Maslen-Miller also shared with us her views on the empowerment of young women and the gap that the Samoan society still lack. Indicating that in order for her to advocate empowerment, being real with young women is the approach that she would choose to illustrate the fact that things might appear easy in our modern world, but it is actually not. For example, you may find a still of someone on Instagram so perfect that you think that person has it all together; however behind the photo is a messy reality. Trusting the decisions that you are making and not being afraid to ask questions are also things that she would strongly advocate, with the stand that people are willing to share their information with those who have a genuine interest. Thus, with this in hand, an understanding of empowerment is and will be established.
Ms.Maslen-Miller also talked about her passion and what she is grateful for as a young Samoan woman. Humbly expressing her gratefulness to her/our ancestors for how amazing they were in the field of indigenous science. Being able to sail across the ocean from Manono and Savai’i, where her parents are from, to Aotearoa, is a great feat. Stating that without them she wouldn’t have been where she is. Our Samoan Scientist passionately drew the field of science as her domain of action, looking at the connection between Western science and Indigenous science as her biggest passion at the moment. Asserting that it is something that she wants to expand more on. Due to the reasons that indigenous science is not recognizable in the Western perspective, but it is in her personal volition.
Furthermore, Ms.Maslen-Miller humbly advised the younger generation of women to not be afraid of the science field or see it as something that is impossible to accomplish. She whole heartily expressed how science was never her first option that later became the passion that burns from within her. Advocating that one has to find a link and passion in what you want to pursue in this life, for instance, how she clicked that what she is doing right now, as a dedicated scientist, is truly contributing to our culture and the economy of Samoa. Secondly, for young women to not shine away from the unknown, in academia you are constantly learning something new and sometimes feeling dumb for not grasping a concept straight away, as Amy has experienced throughout her high school and university years. It is OK to be afraid of the unknown because academia is all about developing your knowledge and learning from others.
As a young Samoan scientist, she shared how she is inspired by young Pacifica’s whom undertaking science because she understands and knows what they are going through. She expressed that understanding is the main thing that still lacks within the Samoan community, in relation to gender equality and it is something that can be achieved. Our beauty with brains closes her story with us by sharing three valuable bits of advice which she believes is worth sharing. These are for young women to,
- Work hard by simply putting in the hours and having a really good work ethic plus studying smartly;
- Secondly, is that passion doesn’t always have to be found in the beginning, passion can be found somewhere in the middle of what you are currently doing;
- Lastly, is staying true to yourself by having the confidence to always back you up.
- Dress by Eveni Caruthers
- Hair & Makeup by the talented Ella of EBB Samoa – Hair and Makeup by Ella Mau
- Photography by Le Masina Photography
- Story written by Jun Ho Kim