Pipiena Sofia Hehea clearly remembers the day she decided her future was to be a life of crime.

She hastens to add that she doesn’t mean this “in the wrong way” – Pipiena is no criminal. Rather, she is graduating this year with a Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

Her path to the qualification began in Year 8, when a US forensic scientist visited her school and offered students the opportunity to solve a real-life incident with actual evidence from the crime scene.

Pipiena Sofia Hehea

From that single experience, Pipiena was hooked.

During her senior year in high school, she began to research options for pursuing a career in forensic sciences and came across the degree on the UNSW website. She was immediately attracted by the multitude of professions that a degree in criminology could offer.

Pipiena says that a highlight of her time at UNSW has been the opportunity to connect with academics and industry professionals.

Pipiena Sofia Hehea at the Career Ready Mentoring closing ceremony
Connecting with industry professionals at the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences Career Ready Mentoring closing ceremony.

“One of the best aspects of my degree was the ability to work closely with some intelligent academics who were once in my position and were therefore able to guide me in both uni work and my personal life,” she says.

“Through these academics and tutors and throughout my degree I was able to forge some compelling connections with professionals, allowing me to be ‘industry ready’ in a dynamic field.”

Pipiena also took part in the Career Ready Mentoring Program, which she says provided invaluable insights into life after graduation.

However, she isn’t sure if she is done with university just yet.

“I am currently weighing up my options for continuing tertiary education, whether by picking up another degree or doing postgraduate work,” she says.

She says she has enjoyed exploring other disciplines including psychology, sociology and law within her degree so far, and that she appreciates having flexibility.

“I have learnt that adaptability is key when it comes to criminology,” she says.

“You need to be able to adjust yourself and your skills to suit different tasks and projects, and this skill in particular has taught me the importance of versatility.”

Whether next year brings further study or a step out into the criminology industry for Pipiena, she encourages students to take advantage of all opportunities that will enable them to succeed in life.

“Be confident in who you are and what you bring to the table, because you are so worthy of being an employee in the organisation or field that you are working so hard to be a part of,” she says.

“So, all the best and good luck!”

Dominique Pendleton