The distinguished reputation of the University of Tasmania’s Bachelor of Marine Science degree was what lured Haruhi Wabiko to move to Hobart from Japan.
The beautiful wilderness and a job working with the Parks and Wildlife Service helped to convince her to remain.
But it took the COVID-19 pandemic and an unexpected job opportunity to convince her to make a career shift and use her science degree in a slightly different way.
“After high school in Japan, I came to Tassie specifically to study a Bachelor of Marine Science and then did honours in marine science as well,” she said.
“Marine science is a narrow area to get a job in but I got a job with Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service at the Freycinet National Park. It wasn’t 100% related to my studies but was still talking to people about nature and working in a nice natural area with wildlife.”
While she enjoyed her job, and the beautiful environment in which she worked, after a few years Haruhi started looking for a new challenge, something else to do with her skills and expertise.
Then, in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, which drastically reduced visitor numbers to the national park. So, like many other State Government employees, Haruhi was reassigned to assist with contact tracing and data entry to help manage the public health response.
“During that time I met an environmental health officer from the Health Department and heard about the work they do,” Haruhi said. “And it was a variety of things like food inspections, septic tank inspections, dealing with complaints from residents about things like noise or vermin, every day is different.
“It was a chance to go outside for sampling things like water, it sounded interesting. I hadn’t thought about an environmental health job before.”
Haruhi enrolled in the postgraduate Graduate Diploma in Environmental Health at the University of Tasmania and said the shift from a marine science background to an environmental health focus was actually a very smooth one.
“You need a science background for this (graduate diploma), and I already had that with my Bachelor of Marine Science, so I didn’t need to do any additional study before starting this.
“My main interest was always in conservation, protecting the environment from human impact and so on. So this is a little different but still about protecting water systems, making sure the water going in is clean.”
Haruhi also secured a cadetship with the Clarence City Council as a fulltime Cadet Environmental Health Officer, giving her real-world experience in her new career path while she completes her studies part-time and primarily online.
She said her cadetship allowed her time to study and being able to complete most of her course online meant she could fit her university commitments in around her work life relatively easily.
“I’m studying two units each semester, mostly online from home, and coming in once or twice per semester for in-person workshops. And the Council gives me one study day per week.
“Studying online is really helpful, I think. With everything recorded and online it is easier to access the study material and catch up when I have time to, rather than on a uni timetable.”
Haruhi is also happy to continue living and working in Tasmania’s beautiful outdoors and close-knit community.
“I love bushwalking and animals and there’s easy access to that here. And because it is small compared to the mainland, everyone knows everyone, it’s easy to make friends and to build relationships within the university as well.”
Developed in conjunction with industry and the professional accrediting body, the University of Tasmania’s Graduate Diploma of Environmental Health will equip you with the skills to join the frontline of health protection.