“I am the oldest of six children. My family and I moved to New Zealand as refugees in 2007 from Malawi. Originally I am from Rwanda but I grew up in Malawi due to instability in my homeland.

Surviving and overcoming this experience gave me the opportunity to move to New Zealand, and subsequently to become an active leader in my community.

Coming to New Zealand has been a learning experience and at times it has been very difficult. Learning a whole new language and culture in eight and a half years has certainly been challenging.

I feel very lucky to be in New Zealand, a country that allows young women to take full advantage of all opportunities that are available. I am truly honoured to have been a recipient of the Sir Robert Jones Refugees Daughters scholarship, which will support me throughout my time at university.

As a young woman with a refugee background, I'm sometimes sad that I didn't have the chance to grow up in my country due to war and instability. The Rwandan community in Wellington is relatively small but we find time once a month to eat traditional Rwandan food and speak our language.

I believe that a nation can only change when we show empathy towards one another. This is exactly what New Zealand has shown my family.

I hope to do further study in the field of political science, international relations and law. I would like to become a human rights lawyer and specialise in the area of refugees. Otherwise, any public policy work would also be great.

I attended Naenae College and finished last year. Naenae College has inspired me to help people who are struggling within the wider community. The Naenae College school motto is Te whanau Tahi meaning oneness. The college embraces the spirit of Te Whanau Tahi in that we are one big family, although we are all different.

I think it's very important that people, especially young New Zealanders, understand that former refugees can contribute greatly to the New Zealand society.

Negative perceptions of refugees create a single narrative of who a refugee is and leaves no room for success stories to be heard.”