Open Polytechnic students celebrate graduation in Auckland

Posted on 11 March 2020

When Waiheke Island’s Mariette Dodd began her psychology studies with Open Polytechnic during one of the most challenging times of her life, she never imagined that her study journey would ignite a fierce passion for learning that would lead her to completing her degree.

Open Polytechnic, New Zealand’s leading provider of online and distance education, held the last of their 2016 national graduation ceremonies on 19 May 2016 at Auckland’s Sir Woolf Fisher Arena with 157 graduates, and 700 guests in attendance. The ceremony allowed students to don their cap and gowns to celebrate their achievements among their families, whanau, friends, peers and Open Polytechnic staff.

In her speech to fellow graduates, guests and Open Polytechnic staff, Mariette touched on how motivating her study journey was, explaining that no matter how numerous or challenging external life factors became, she was always driven by her desire for a better life, and helped  by the support of Open Polytechnic staff.

Having emigrated to New Zealand from her native South Africa with her two daughters in 2003, Mariette’s study journey with Open Polytechnic was sparked by heart breaking news.

In 2009 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and it was that diagnosis that ended up serving as her motivation to build a more meaningful life.

“I was fortunate. For so many people cancer marks an ending. For me, it marked a beginning. It forced me to re-examine my life and it brought me to the realization that life is too short to live without purpose, it is too short to live with regrets,” Mariette said while addressing her fellow graduates.

Without any family or close friends by her side to help support her through cancer treatment, motherhood, full-time work and her studies, Mariette turned to Open Polytechnic.

”My psychology lecturer Nancy Weaver opened doors for me, she listened, she advised, she encouraged, she mapped out the path that would lead me to this day. And that made all the difference. In many ways Nancy, and by implication, the Open Polytechnic, threw me a life-line when I needed it most…I have found the staff – from administration to library to academic – to be outstanding. I believe that I speak for every student here today when I say that I was fortunate to have a provider who truly took my unique situation into account.”

Mariette concluded her speech by congratulating her fellow students on their determination and perseverance in realising their dreams. “We’ve had to carefully balance our lives and our commitments to make this study work for us. In my eyes, we are all legends, all heroes, and all forces to be reckoned with!”

To see more photos from our 2016 Auckland graduation ceremony, visit our Facebook page at and also be sure to check out our Twitter feed from the day at​