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Mother Of Five Graduates With PhD

Proud graduate and family: Benjamin 17, Amelia 13, Lucy Hardie, Sebastian 19, Oliver 16, Reuben 48, Leon Hardie, 14.

Lucy Hardie has graduated with a doctorate based on vaping research, all while raising five kids.

A mother of five teenagers this week graduates with a doctorate from the University of Auckland and a huge sense of achievement.

Lucy Hardie’s research, in the School of Population Health, is on the way vaping is marketed to young people, a topic with real-life implications for her family.

“I've gained the theoretical knowledge of these issues, but my children gave me a lot of input and on the ground knowledge of what it's really like,” Lucy says.

Lucy found she enjoyed studying for the opportunity to develop skills of organisation, analysis and critical thinking.

“It gave me intellectual stimulation and something to really focus on and counter the thousands of loads of laundry and dirty dishes. And a real sense of accomplishment.”

Another advantage was being able to show her children that their mother could invest herself in other things, keep finding things that are interesting and be persistent.

Prior to her doctorate, Lucy achieved a bachelor of health sciences and a masters of public health, starting ten years ago when her youngest was three years old.

Covid-19 lockdowns a year into her thesis were ‘a pretty wild roller-coaster ride’ with all seven family members at home and studying or working online.

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In some ways, it had advantages, Lucy says, with running around to activities and sports obviated.

Lucy’s research has led to policy changes, with cartoon advertising of vapes banned, as well as an appearance on TVNZ’s Sunday.

Lucy also travelled to Geneva in 2022 to present about her research at the World Cancer Congress.

Lucy is also pleased to be modelling persistence and hard work to her children, as well as the value of education and learning.

“My topic around vaping is a social justice issue, which has also been positive to show the children the importance of working towards something you feel will hopefully make a difference.”

Lucy worked part-time as a graduate teaching fellow in the School of Population Health up to her final year of research.

As someone who tends towards optimism, Lucy sees the benefits of having to make the most of small chunks of time for study.

“In a busy household with children, there's so much that's unpredictable. I felt like, when I got time to sit at my desk, it made me work more effectively.

“Also, the nice thing about having the kids is sometimes they force you to do something else. And when you're dropping someone somewhere or making dinner, then you come back to your work and see it with a fresh perspective.”

Her advice to others juggling study with parenthood or busy lives is to break tasks down into small pieces.

“It is by chipping away at these tiny pieces that you manage to get done, over time, you find they are, in the end, a really big thing that you can feel proud of.”

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