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Seeing the country . . . Former Waikaka woman Carrie Clifford fitted in some sightseeing when she was in Colorado on a Fulbright-Nga Pae o te Maramatanga Scholarship. Here she is standing in front of Maroon Lake with two mountain peaks, the popular landmark behind her is called Maroon Bells. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

“Awesome mentorship” is one of the highlights of Carrie Clifford’s trip to the United States.

The University of Otago psychology doctoral student, who grew up in Waikaka, left New Zealand in July 2019 to study in the United States.

She won a Fulbright-Nga Pae o te Maramatanga Scholarship to work in American universities for about a year.

After five months at the University of Colorado as a visiting researcher in the centres for American Indian and Alaska Native Health she moved in January to Baltimore where she spent time at the Center for American Indian Health in the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.

However, when the Covid-19 situation developed she came home earlier than expected and is now working on her doctorate at her parents’ home in Waikaka.

Miss Clifford said she was fortunate to connect with professors who understood what she wanted.

“They put me on projects I was able to use my skills to contribute and I was also able to learn a lot,” Miss Clifford said.

It was one thing to read research but being in the field with the professors gave her the opportunity to see first-hand how the team worked with the different groups.

“It’s just such a richer experience.”

Miss Clifford, of Waitaha, Kai Tahu, Kati Mamoe descent is very interested in indigenous health issues and worked on a range of research projects in partnership with native communities.

The projects included research on community mental health and suicide prevention initiatives, substance use in youth and family-based parenting interventions.

She was sure the knowledge she had gained and the relationships she had formed would be very useful in the future.

Indigenous health models that were holistic and included family relationships and physical, spiritual and mental health could be adapted to all people, she said.

indigenous communities and what is helpful for indigenous is helpful for all.”

The mental health system in New Zealand did not appear to be working well for many minority groups including Maori, men, Pasifika and rural people.

“If you put all those minority populations together it is actually making the majority of people the system is not working for.”