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Graduand inspired by late father

Grace Jessup was encouraged by her seriously ill father to attend university but sadly he didn’t make it to see her graduate this week.

His legacy has inspired her to pursue research looking at violence-prevention and Māori men’s wellbeing.
The University of Auckland Psychology student cared for her father full time after he suffered a fall from a roof four years ago. He passed away in December from a heart attack.
His traumatic childhood and stories of intergenerational violence inspired Grace to continue her studies.

This year she was accepted to complete postgraduate research with Dr Jade le Grice from the School of Psychology in the Faculty of Science.
Dr le Grice is the recipient of an Irihapeti Rehu Murchie Health Research Council grant to study violence prevention from a Māori perspective.

Grace says: “My father and I were very close and my path toward psychology was one I saw as equipping me with skills to be able to help him primarily, and myself as his main carer.”
“My dad was over-the-top proud, particularly when it came to my studies. I am the first in my immediate family of six to go to university, so dad was particularly excited about graduation and would constantly ask me about it right up until the day he passed.”

Grace is now researching the difficult topic of male sexual violence – her father was not a victim of this specifically - but she was drawn to exploring the gender differences in how men overcome trauma.
Grace’s specific analysis will look at tāne Māori experiences of sexual violence and their insights into mātauranga Māori that may help to provide protection for future generations.
Current research shows that Māori are, due to a variety of factors, at higher risk of experiencing sexual violence than other groups in Aotearoa.

“Research that is able to make recommendations for sexual violence prevention that is specific to Māori is important in addressing high rates of sexual violence against Māori generally, not just for tāne Māori,” she says.
“By approaching this issue from a mātauranga Māori perspective we are better able to offer solutions that are culturally appropriate and relevant.”

Grace will receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of Auckland on Wednesday 1 May.
“I wouldn’t be attending the ceremony at all if it wasn’t for dad. So from that perspective it’s nice that I can be absolutely certain of his presence on the day.”

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