Open Polytechnic graduates celebrate at ceremonies around the country

Posted on 13 June 2024

Around 1140 graduates from throughout Aotearoa New Zealand received their diplomas and degrees from the Open Polytechnic, a business division of Te Pūkenga, either at graduation ceremonies in Auckland, Lower Hutt and Christchurch, or in absentia, in May and June 2024.

Bromley-based Bachelor of Applied Management graduate, Rochelle Watson, who completed her studies while living in Geraldine, was the student speaker at the Christchurch ceremony.  

Rochelle commenced her speech with a couple of quotes that resonated with her learning journey. She spoke about finding “silver linings” when challenges arose. 

She said the COVID-19 restrictions in 2020 had created uncertainty for her business, and having been self-employed for 10 years, it was time to reevaluate, and either stay in business, or return to study.

With a dream to pursue a career that would contribute to positive change in work cultures, Rochelle enrolled in the Bachelor of Applied Management, having previously completed a New Zealand Diploma in Business with Open Polytechnic. 

“I asked myself what the most important skills would be to gain a better understanding of changing work cultures with a positive effect,” Rochelle said. 

Having overcome hurdles in her learning journey, including finding the time to study around busy family and life commitments, Rochelle was proud to graduate and take on the role of representing South Island learners at the Christchurch ceremony.

Auckland-based Bachelor of Business (Marketing) graduate Karl Love was the student speaker at the Auckland ceremony.   

Karl initially felt reluctant to undertake tertiary study after high school as he didn’t think he would achieve a high enough level.  

So, instead of going to university, he worked at a Yoplait dairy factory for 10 years. Initially, Karl worked on the production line, before being promoted to Lab Assistant, and three years later he was promoted again to Lab Coordinator. 

Working on developing new products piqued Karl’s interest in marketing, but despite being encouraged to study towards a marketing degree by his manager at the time, Karl was still hesitant. 

“This hesitation was born from a fear of failure, of not being good enough to succeed with a higher education,” Karl said.  

A few years later, having travelled overseas to take on a new career opportunity, Karl returned to New Zealand when the COVID-19 restrictions hit.  In June 2020, Karl enrolled for the Bachelor of Business (Marketing), before he moved to Auckland in February 2021.  

“I had heard about Open Polytechnic from a colleague of mine at Yoplait, who had had a great experience during her time studying,” Karl said. 

“Luckily, Open Polytechnic was offering the degree course I wanted to do, and it was fully online. This would allow me to study from home, while looking for work in Auckland.” 

After eight months Karl was offered a contract as a Regulatory Support Officer at Auckland Council and has been working there full-time in various roles since, while studying. 

During his speech, Karl acknowledged Open Polytechnic staff. “The level of support and engagement we had from all our academic staff was amazing.”

Palmerston North-based Bachelor of Applied Science (Psychology) graduate Tanyaradzwa Makope was the student speaker at the Lower Hutt ceremony. 

When he began his study journey, Tanyaradzwa wasn’t sure what he wanted to study, trying out a few subject areas before then completing a real estate qualification with Open Polytechnic in 2020.

Looking to further his learning experiences, he realised how essential understanding himself and others would be in the long run and enrolled in psychology courses.  

“That is when I discovered my calling and purpose in the field of psychology, which offers an abundance of choices as far as career paths,” Tanyaradzwa says. 

He went on to finish a New Zealand Diploma in Psychology, before completing the Bachelor of Applied Science (Psychology).  

“Through my studies, I’ve learned about cognitive processes, emotional regulation, and human development,” Tanyaradzwa said. “These insights have been incredibly enlightening, providing a deeper understanding of why we think, feel, and behave the way we do.” 

“Personally, I’ve found that applying what I’ve learned in psychology has had a profound impact on my life,” he said.  

Executive Director Open Polytechnic Alan Cadwallader congratulated this year’s graduates for their commitment to completing their studies, while often juggling work and family commitments.  

“We are delighted to be able to be here together to celebrate our graduates’ academic achievements,” Alan said.  

He acknowledged the unique experience of learning online by distance, and said it was “one that takes discipline, and determination to balance study with the dual priorities of caring for whānau, and navigating professional lives” 

With many Open Polytechnic ākonga (learners) undertaking part-time study, with the aim of progressing in their careers or changing careers, Alan noted that gaining a qualification meant something different to each graduate and he highlighted the breadth of knowledge across many disciplines, represented by the graduates in the room. 

“Education ultimately allows you to have greater agency over your futures, your daily lives, and your professional careers in a myriad of ways,” he said. 

Ākonga graduated with a variety of diplomas and degrees, including early childhood education, business, applied management, funeral directing, legal executive studies, library and information studies, human resources, marketing, psychology, applied science, social health and wellbeing, web development and design, information technology, construction, architectural technology, engineering technology, social work and the arts.