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Open Polytechnic student wins top prize from New Zealand Law Society

Posted on 23 February 2009

Kerikeri-based Open Polytechnic student Katrina Berghan has been named the top graduating student in the 2008 New Zealand Law Society’s nation-wide Legal Executive Course examinations.

“I was really shocked, and quite overwhelmed to be named the top graduate”, says Katrina, who worked full-time as a legal executive at Just Law in Kerikeri while studying by distance with the Open Polytechnic.

Each year students from eight different tertiary providers around the country sit one or more of the six examinations that make up the Legal Executive Course.

Open Polytechnic students, who study by distance learning, have consistently won prizes for their exam efforts each year in the Legal Executive Course examinations.

“My boss, Amanda Kennedy, has been the most supportive boss in the world. She paid for my course and my books, and was the one that encouraged me to do the course. I think it is great that she encourages her employees to do well, and this win really validates the hard work I have put in”, she says.

Katrina, who hadn’t studied since high school before taking up the Legal Executive Course, says the flexibility of distance study worked well for her. “I was able to set my own hours of study so that I could continue to work full-time.”

She says her family, work colleagues and partner Pete were very supportive, especially around exam time. “Pete would cook the dinner so that I could study and then send me off to do some more while he did the dishes.”

Her Open Polytechnic tutors provided assistance by email or freephone. “The tutors were really good. I would email them if I had a problem and they would get back to me straight away. I also preferred distance study because it meant I could take my time going over the text.”

Both her boss and partner are now encouraging Katrina to work towards a law degree. “There will definitely be more study to come. I’ve really enjoyed the positive affirmation you get when an assignment comes back in the mail with a good mark - it gives you a real lift.”

For now though, she’s content to spend more time on the family’s lifestyle block and get back out on the water to enjoy her main passion – game fishing.


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