Engineering a brighter future.
Getting to know Ana Sarkis Fernandez
PhD in Earthquake Engineering.
Tell us about what you’re studying.
I am working towards my PhD in Earthquake Engineering. I’m exploring low damage technologies for bridges so they perform better in earthquakes and are easier to repair.
What do you like most about your programme?
My supervisor has organised his postgraduate students into a research group. So even though we all have different projects, we’re like a team. I really like working with other people. It makes research a collaborative process and it’s more social too. You feel like you belong.
UC has a strong engineering reputation – has it lived up to its name?
Yes, it's been very good. UC has a very close relationship with the industry. Even as a student I’ve had the opportunity to interact with a lot of consulting companies. New Zealand is an exciting place to study because they’re actually implementing new technologies. It’s a very active learning experience.
Are there many adult students in your programme?
There are. Our ages range from early 20s into the 40s. We’re a very diverse group in both our nationalities and our life stages. I really like getting to know all types of people. You become part of a community.
What else keeps you busy at UC?
I’ve started doing more outdoors stuff like tramping and rock climbing. There are lots of clubs and activities to join. I’ve been getting more adventurous! The people are really welcoming even if you've never done it before.
What makes UC special to you?
UC feels more like a community than the other universities I’ve studied at. You’re not just a number, you feel like you really have a place here. It’s very easy to feel welcome.
How has UC helped you grow?
Part of getting your PhD is learning to deal with things like stress and deadlines. You’re forced to look at your insecurities. I worry, “Am I good enough? Do I know enough?” I’m not the most technically outstanding student. But you quickly realise that everybody is on the same journey. Studying in such a diverse place, surrounded by people with different backgrounds and interests helps you learn more about yourself and grow as a person.