Back to news & events


From Doubt to Degree

Posted 12 06 2024

in News

Zoe Mason
Zoe Mason

A Graduation Story

Zoe Mason’s journey from doubt to a degree culminated at Te Herenga Waka―Victoria University of Wellington’s May Graduation ceremonies, where she was awarded a Bachelor of Architecture.

As Zoe approached the end of secondary school, uncertainty clouded her career path. It was only when her graphics and technology teacher suggested trying architecture, noting her talent for drawing, that Zoe found her true calling.

“I hadn’t prepared for going to university, so I didn’t quite have the grades. I decided to take a gap year, which ended up being the year of the first COVID-19 lockdowns, so it worked out perfectly. After I went to the open day, I really liked the campus and the city.”

Transitioning from a rural upbringing on a dairy farm to the busy city of Wellington was a significant change for Zoe, describing the two lifestyles as “very contrasting.” However, the city was welcoming, and she quickly found her footing.

This rural upbringing instilled in Zoe a love for nature, which naturally translated into her studies. After exploring various subjects during her first year, she discovered landscape architecture.

“I was introduced to this other field that was still design based, but way more environmentally focused. I loved the thought of this as the one thing I was still iffy about with architecture was the built environment stuff, whereas landscape was all environmental.

“Landscape architecture also takes into consideration disaster response, ecology, public spaces, and even climate change. These areas are very complex, and I enjoy that.”
Zoe’s academic journey is continuing, as she is now studying towards a Master of Landscape Architecture at the University. During her Bachelor’s study, Zoe had the opportunity to participate in the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation Conference (CERF) in Portland, Oregon.

“Attending CERF was eye-opening. It exposed us to all these different careers and even led to winning a design competition, which was very rewarding. The networking opportunities and mentorship offered me great insights for my Master’s thesis.

“Moving away from home meant I had to support myself, which is why I am so grateful for the opportunity to attend CERF—if it wasn’t funded, I’d never have been able to attend.”

After completing her Master’s, Zoe aspires to contribute to firms that align with her values, focusing on creating resilient urban and green spaces.

“Biophilic design, which is centred on wellbeing and nature, is important to me. I’m passionate about supporting New Zealand’s native species and integrating habitat conservation into urban environments.”


This article is shared with Zoe's permission and was written by staff at Victoria University.