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Posted on 2 June 2015
Open Polytechnic Auckland graduate Rhonda Munster first learned about distance education 40 years ago when her mother studied by correspondence.
While technology and the internet have changed the face of distance education the reasons people use this form of study have remained the same, Rhonda told fellow graduates at the Open Polytechnic’s Auckland graduation ceremony this week.
Representing fellow upper North Island students as graduate speaker at the ceremony held at the Vodafone Events Centre yesterday, Rhonda, graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Science (Information Systems and Technology) from the Open Polytechnic, and also receive the award for the top graduate in her subject area from Computing and Information Technology Research and Education New Zealand (CITRENZ).
In her speech, Rhonda shared how she first learned about the distance education specialist forty years ago when her mum studied through the Technical Correspondence Institute, as the Open Polytechnic was known then.
Years later Rhonda formed a company contracting in accounting, administration and technical writing roles, before deciding to tackle her own study journey.
“While I enjoyed the varied work, as the years passed, I discovered that my true passion was problem solving and found that information technology was often the key to resolving many issues,” Rhonda explains.
“As I had always tried to teach our children to follow their passion, it seem hypocritical not to do so myself. After a considerable amount of soul searching, and with the support of my husband, I cut right back on my work to start studying information system and technology full-time in 2012.”
Rhonda says that the Open Polytechnic was the right fit for her busy life.
“In Auckland we are spoiled for choice when it comes to tertiary institutions we can attend. However, having seen the early starts and late finishes our eldest child had experienced at going along to university, I realised that I would not be able to do that with three children still at school. Due to the flexibility it provides, distance study was again the logical choice.”
Unlike when her mum was studying, Rhonda received her Open Polytechnic study material both in print and online form. While the delivery of course material has changed over the years, Rhonda says the benefits of online interaction have been one of the highlights for her.
“We can easily form relationships with other students through the many online facilities and I found that the friendships I have formed were invaluable. Just having someone to talk to that understood what I was going through was vital to my study survival.”
Despite the changes in the delivery and communication over the years, there are some aspects which have not changed at all, Rhonda says.
“I am sure my mother experienced the same mix of excitement and trepidation when she saw her rolled up results in the letterbox as I did when I saw a results notification in my Inbox. Followed by the strange sense of emptiness felt when there were no more results waiting to come in,” she explains.
“Also, the various reasons for taking up tertiary education, and sticking to it, have not changed over the decades. And the gratitude and appreciation we are feeling for our family and friends who helped us get to this point, along with the satisfaction of achieving our goals, would have been felt by those who have come before us.”
The Auckland graduation ceremony was the third of the distance education specialist’s three graduation ceremonies this year and also saw two graduating students receive awards from the Accounting and Tax Agents of New Zealand Inc.
Rebecca Palmer, was recognised as top Bachelor of Business Taxation graduate and Virginia Desai, was recognised as the top New Zealand Diploma in Business Taxation graduate.
Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand recognised first year Accounting student Nicole Berry and second year Financial Accounting student John Goldsworthy for their outstanding academic achievements in their respective courses.
One hundred and eighty one graduates attended the Auckland ceremony, receiving their diploma and degrees in a range of subjects including early childhood education, business, engineering technology, psychology, communication, information and library studies, humanities and health.
Nationwide, 928 students will receive their diplomas and degrees in 46 specialist subject areas from the Open Polytechnic this graduating year.