Leigh Punivalu

Bachelor of Media Design

Heritage: Samoan and Māori


Hobbies/Interests: Watching TV shows and creating designs 

What were you doing before you started studying at Media Design School?  

I attended the boarding school St Paul’s Collegiate in Hamilton for five years. At school I grew a passion for art, and through word of mouth and online research I discovered Media Design School. After a long conversation with my parents I began my journey at MDS in 2019. 

What do you enjoy most about studying at MDS? 

The majority of my enjoyment from comes from the people I surround myself with while on campus. This includes friends, teachers and the Student Executive team. Everyone is focused on their aspirations which give me a morale boost to do the best in my studies. 

What advice do you have for students wanting to study at MDS?  

At MDS, I recommend taking up the opportunities that are provided to you. There are a lot of connections inside MDS that can give you a huge head start to scoring your job outside of school, so when given an offer, always take it.  

If you’re like me and struggle a lot with financial problems, learn to manage your income to revolve around what you need personally and what is needed at school or to get to school (e.g. public transport). MDS supports students who have problems in all areas so don’t be afraid to reach out if you are facing an issue. 

Who has been a positive influence on you, both personally and in your studies?   

Whilst there have been many influences on me to do my best in study, one of my best friends who was also my roommate pushed me to always step outside my boundaries when it comes to exposing the creative nature in my work.  

What were some of the initial challenges you faced when you entered your study?  

When I had my first year of study a lot of my issues revolved around getting used to the structure of how MDS operates. Other issues included socialising with other classmates - it was my first year in the Foundation programme so everything was a bit daunting to begin with. All these issues were resolved the longer I stayed at the school. 

What support has helped you during your time at MDS so far?  

My lecturers have always given me very honest and critical feedback about my work. Stakeholder feedback, even if harsh, is crucial for your improvement in your work so I am never afraid to ask questions. Lecturers such as Bonnie Kea have really helped me to embrace my cultural side at school and to implement a lot of it into my designs. 

What do you hope to do once you finish your studies? 

I would like to gain a graphic design job in the Auckland area. I would also love the opportunity to work for MDS as well!  Paying off my student debt would be a main priority. 

Leigh Punivalu