Open Polytechnic celebrates distance learning graduations

Posted on 11 March 2020

To applause from their proud family and friends, Open Polytechnic distance learning graduates from throughout the lower North Island crossed the stage at the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington recently [23 May, 3.30 pm] to receive their well-earned qualifications.

Open Polytechnic’s Wellington graduation ceremony was the last of three nationwide graduation ceremonies held across New Zealand.  In total, over 940 learners received their diplomas and degrees in this graduating year. The other ceremonies were held earlier this month in Auckland [1 May] and Christchurch [7 May].

Education Minister, Hon Chris Hipkins, was the guest speaker at the Wellington ceremony.

During his speech Minister Hipkins encouraged graduates to remain lifelong learners, saying “The world of work is changing and throughout all of our lives, no matter what stage of our life, we will continue to need to hone and develop new skills, acquire new knowledge and develop new strategies to be the best that we can be. You are now more likely than ever before to enter not just one or two, but several different careers throughout your working lives.”

Minister Hipkins also said that vocational education and training needs to support the ongoing changing nature of work, and be flexible enough to support the skills and training New Zealand needs now and in the future.

In her graduation address, Open Polytechnic Chief Executive Dr Caroline Seelig said the flexibility of distance study meant the organisation’s mainly adult graduates were able to apply their learning directly into their careers.

“As they upskill themselves to progress in their current career or pursue a new direction, our graduates are also benefiting employers and the wider community and economy.

“Many thousands of Open Polytechnic students and alumni are making a difference in workplaces throughout New Zealand and in a wide variety of careers.”

The representative student speaker for the Wellington ceremony was Masterton local, Sahana Rose, who graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work.

Sahana, who is currently working in her chosen field, says she was never “a classroom kind-of-person” and needed the freedom and flexibility of distance learning to earn a living while studying.

In her speech, Sahana talks about landing her dream job at Oranga Tamariki while studying, and the support she received throughout her studies from colleagues and Open Polytechnic staff.

Sahana says that the online and distance learning environment offered by Open Polytechnic, along with the encouragement from her lecturers, allowed her the flexibility and confidence to strive towards her study goals. In her third year of studying, Sahana became a student advocate and student representative. She says, “I gained an inside look into all the hard work and expertise of Open Polytechnic staff.”

The Wellington ceremony saw learners graduate with a variety of diplomas and degrees including social work, early childhood education, business, applied science, information technology, legal executive studies, construction, architectural technology, quantity surveying, accounting, human resource management, and  information and library studies.

*Image is of Sahana Rose, Wellington’s graduate speaker.