Posted on 10 November 2022
Over 360 graduates celebrated at three separate ceremonies in Auckland, Christchurch, and Wellington recently as they graduated with qualifications from online distance learning provider Open Polytechnic - Te Pūkenga.
Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education) and Auckland graduation student speaker, Lalupe Lolesi delivered a heartfelt speech at the Auckland ceremony held at the Due Drop Events Centre. She spoke of leaving the education system early during high school, only to return to study years later to complete her degree. Lalupe said when she enrolled with the Open Polytechnic she had “finally found her place” and described this time as her last opportunity to earn a degree.
Auckland Graduate Speaker Lalupe Lolesi
The “proud Tuvaluan, Tokelauan and Kiribati woman” also mentioned the challenges of studying during various COVID-19 restrictions, cultural differences, and thanked God, her family and her Open Polytechnic Regional Lecturer, Mary-Liz Broadley and the wider staff of the distance learning provider for their support.
“I had to navigate through many cultural and personal contexts that at times acted as barriers in achieving my degree and had me dangerously close to becoming ‘another statistic’,” Lalupe said.
Bachelor of Social Work graduate, Rihi Bloxham (Te Ati Hau Nui A Paparangi raua ko Ngati Kahungunu ki te Heretaunga me Te Wairoa nga Iwi) and student speaker at the Christchurch ceremony held at the Wigram Airforce Museum, also shared with her fellow graduates her reasons for studying.
Christchurch Graduate Speaker Rihi Bloxham
Her learning journey, she said was motivated by a “sense of purpose” and wanting to “change pathways” as a parent providing for her tamariki (children). She saw education as the key to providing that change with a path away from poverty and an entry into a vocation that would provide her with the purpose she was seeking.
“I chose to enrol in the Bachelor of Social Work with the Open Polytechnic because it provided me with a flexible learning platform,” Rihi said.
Dr Caroline Seelig, General Manager of the Open Polytechnic business division of Te Pūkenga, congratulated graduates at each of the three ceremonies for their perseverance, especially given distance learning meant the organisation’s mainly adult graduates were often juggling their study, with work and family commitments.
“Pursuing your goals takes hard work, and it takes courage to press on when challenges arise,” she said.
“The last couple of years as we have all navigated the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly presented the unexpected.
“I applaud you for the resilience you have shown during this time to continue with your studies and balance your time to meet the needs of your whānau, work and everyday life.”
The Wellington ceremony held at the Michael Fowler Centre on 9 November was the final graduation ceremony for the year for Open Polytechnic - Te Pūkenga in 2022. Over 1,350 graduates, including those awarded in absentia, received their diploma or degree from Open Polytechnic – Te Pūkenga this graduating year.
Learners across the three ceremonies graduated with a variety of diplomas and degrees, including early childhood education, business, legal executive studies, engineering technology, accounting, environment, library and information studies, psychology, applied science, information technology, construction, architectural technology, social work and the arts.