Student Stories

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We have over 31,000 students from New Zealand and 40 countries overseas taking advantage of distance and online learning with us each year.

Most are in employment and are studying so they can take the next step in their career.


  • Ann Tapara SMALL

    Gaining the Confidence to Succeed

    • Bachelor of Applied Science (Psychology)

    Wanting the confidence to challenge herself and a career to provide for her children, Ann Tapara began her journey with a Bachelor of Applied Science through distance learning at Open Polytechnic, laying the foundation to later gaining a Masters degree and becoming a fully registered clinical psychologist.

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  • Fran 137 X 112

    Fran shifts up a gear

    From doubting her own abilities to launching a wellbeing programme for young women in Wellington - Open Polytechnic graduate Fran McEwen has come a long way since she dropped out of high school at the age of 16.

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  • Sasha Bain Small

    Staying current in her field

    • New Zealand Certificate in Financial Services (Level 4)

    Between working part-time, raising a family, house renovations and numerous other commitments, Sasha Bain was able to achieve the New Zealand Certificate in Financial Services (Level 4) with Open Polytechnic. 

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  • Reuben 137 112px

    Chasing the drafting dream

    • New Zealand Diploma in Architectural Technology (Level 6)

    Studying with the Open Polytechnic is a whānau affair for New Zealand Diploma in Architectural Technology student and Kua Hii Ake te Ata Study Award recipient Reuben Munro.

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  • Amy Isaacs big

    Following her passion

    • Graduate Diploma in Strategic Management (Level 7)

    After working full-time for many years, Amy Isaacs (Ngāpuhi) reached a point in her life where she wanted to make a change, and do something for herself that she enjoyed.

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  • Erin Kernohan Small

    Achieving life and career goals

    • Bachelor of Applied Science (Psychology)

    The decision to study psychology stemmed from Open Polytechnic graduate Erin Kernohan’s desire to make a difference and impact people’s lives in a positive way.

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  • Kylie 137px

    Bright future ahead for scholarship winner

    • Bachelor of Business (Accounting)

    Taranaki resident Kylie Filbee-Cronin juggled working full-time while ticking-off a string of life achievements during her time studying towards a Bachelor of Business (Accounting) with the Open Polytechnic.

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  • Emma Jeffery 137X112

    Dream of tertiary education fulfilled

    • Bachelor of Applied Science (Communication)

    Aucklander Emma Jeffery’s long-held ambition of receiving a tertiary education is now complete after graduating from Open Polytechnic with a Bachelor of Applied Science (Communication).

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  • Herman 1

    New continent, new career

    • Bachelor of Information Technology

    A passion for information technology and a desire to further his education took Open Polytechnic Bachelor of Information Technology graduate Herman Engelbrecht from a farming job in South Africa to an IT career in Auckland. 

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  • Moneel web

    Study offers global opportunities

    • Bachelor of Business (Accounting)

    Wellington based Retail Manager and Open Polytechnic graduate Moneel Pratap says his Bachelor of Business majoring in Accounting with New Zealand’s leader in distance education has not only enriched his current work, but has opened up career opportunities for him on a global scale. 

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  • Small Joe

    Inspired to grow business further

    Completing his New Zealand Diploma in Business has not only motivated Hamilton based graduate Joseph Cockroft to study further, but has also inspired him to grow his family-owned business.

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  • Jeff 2

    Degree enriches career

    • Bachelor of Business

    For Jeff Goss, completing his four-year journey of part- time study by distance learning with Open Polytechnic was not just about accomplishing his Bachelor of Business, it has also enriched his career, changed his thinking and helped him develop within his current role.

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  • Juliette Broomahll 05e

    Life changing journey

    • Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education)

    For South Islander Juliette Broomhall, completing her Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education) meant that she could achieve a goal she never thought possible, all while exploring her heritage and making a difference in her community. 

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  • Georgia Daals LR

    Striving for academic and athletic success

    • Bachelor of Applied Management

    Often when someone decides to pursue a high level, competitive sport, they are faced with having to make a choice between that passion and other life commitments such as study or work.

    For Wellington’s Georgia Daals however, she was able to simultaneously pursue her successful rugby career and business degree studies thanks to the flexibility she found with Open Polytechnic, New Zealand’s leading provider of online and distance learning.

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  • Emma Harris

    Leading by example

    • Bachelor of Business (Accounting)

    Open Polytechnic accounting graduate Emma Harris’s academic ambition came from the emphasis that her family, and especially her father, put on higher education.  “I was the youngest of seven and being educated was always a priority for my dad but it wasn’t until I was 19 that I really considered it.” 

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  • Jane B Small

    Sowing the seeds for a successful career

    • National Certificate in Horticulture (Level 3)

    Having spent twenty years working in accounting, the world of horticulture couldn’t seem further for Wellington’s Jane Boydon. Fuelled by a passion for her own home garden and a hunger to improve her horticultural knowledge, Jane decided to take the leap and enrol in Open Polytechnic’s National Certificate in Horticulture (Level 3). 

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  • Jess Bushill Small

    Bringing her studies to life

    • Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education)

    For Auckland’s Jess Bushill, completing her Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education) with Open Polytechnic meant that she could turn her lifelong love of working with children into a successful career as the co-owner of her very own childcare centre. Bumblebees Childcare Centre.


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  • Janet Small

    Mental Health Work Placement

    Open Polytechnic Bachelor of Social Work student, Janet Meyer, enjoyed her three month work placement as part of her degree studies.  Story and photo courtesy of South Canterbury District Health Board.

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  • Aaron Small

    Learning to Grow

    • National Certificate in Horticulture (Level 3)

    Deciding to pursue his long-standing passion for horticulture has had a rosy outcome for Aaron Nicholson. The 45-year old has come out at the top of his Open Polytechnic class in the National Certificate in Horticulture Level 3, and has recently been awarded a scholarship from the National Fuchsia Society of New Zealand to continue his studies. 

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  • Denise Roux Small

    Upskilling in New Zealand Law

    Since landing in New Zealand from South Africa in 2009, Denise Roux has taken her legal career to new heights, recently being named New Zealand’s top legal executive graduate following completion of the New Zealand Law Society Legal Executive Diploma with Open Polytechnic. 

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  • Christchurc 1 Nicola Small

    Studying from Across the Ditch

    • Bachelor of Arts (Social Sciences)

    When Christchurch’s Nicola Barry moved to Melbourne in 2010 with her partner, she never would have guessed that she would begin a complete career change while studying abroad with New Zealand’s premier distance learning specialist, Open Polytechnic. 

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  • Gareth Jeune 137px

    Building the Foundations for Success

    • New Zealand Diploma in Construction (Level 6) with strands in Construction Management and Quantity Surveying

    As a project and safety Coordinator at Wellington International Airport, Gareth Jeune is instrumental in liaising between the main contractor and the operating airport on multi-million dollar construction projects.

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  • Lynette Tabuwere 137x112

    Realising her Dream

    • Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education)

    Lynette Tabuwere says that completing her Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education) has not only led to realising her dream of becoming a teacher, but has also enabled her to show her family that no matter how old you are, it is possible to undertake tertiary study. 

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  • Abigail Willemse 137x112

    Studies Benefit Career

    • Bachelor of Arts (Humanities, and Information and Library Studies)

    Passionate about books, Abigail Willemse had never considered a career in libraries until her last year in school.

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  • Web 1 claude

    Solidifying Expierance with a Degree

    • Bachelor of Social Work

    Open Polytechnic Bachelor of Social Work student, Claude Emke (Ngati Raukawa) says his 20 years’ experience as a social worker is being solidified by working towards finishing his Bachelor of Social work.

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  • Tiana Web 1

    Doing it All

    • Bachelor of Arts (Communication)

    Tiana Samasoni’s (Waikato- Tainui) study journey with the Open Polytechnic, New Zealand’s distance learning specialist, started seven years ago, spanned the births of her three sons, has seen her grow her own business, travel and take on new challenges, all while working towards achieving her Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Communication.

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  • Te rangi 1

    Future Focused

    • Bachelor of Applied Science

    With a passion for sport, health and fitness, Te Rangimarie Edwards (Taranaki- Ngaruahinerangi) is gearing up to tackle her next adventure after completing her Bachelor of Applied Science through New Zealand’s distance learning specialist, the Open Polytechnic. 

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  • MG 1558 web1

    Inspired to Make a Difference

    • Bachelor of Social Work

    Caitlin Butler’s ultimate goal is  to make a difference in the lives of young women, helping support them so that they can reach their full potential and the 22-year-old is working towards her Bachelor of Social Work to get there.

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  • Tia web 1

    Online Learning the Key to Success for Tia

    • Diploma in Child and Adolescent Psychology (Level 6)

    For Diploma in Child and Adolescent Psychology student, Tia Minnoch, online interaction with fellow students, fantastic support from lecturers and the ability to fit in study when and where it suits her is why she is studying through the Open Polytechnic.

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  • Web first

    Progressing Ahead in Business

    • Bachelor of Business

    A combination of practical experience and a qualification through the Open Polytechnic, New Zealand’s distance learning specialist, is what helped Daniel Egan achieve his career goals to date.

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  • Web 1

    Taking the Time to Study

    Studying with the Open Polytechnic ignited Marie Austin’s passion for learning, now a qualified Legal Executive after completing the New Zealand Law Society Legal Executive Diploma, she is looking forward to developing her career further.

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  • Louise Website 1

    Standing out with a Second Degree

    • Bachelor of Applied Science (Psychology)

    Completing one degree is hard work, but completing two takes extra commitment and discipline. 

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  • Website 1

    Sharon’s Study Success

    • Graduate Diploma in Professional Accounting (Level 7)

    A desire for personal achievement, dogged determination and support from the Open Polytechnic are the main factors Sharon Gordon attributes to her study success.


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  • IMG 8875 BlairFalconer Web small

    Blair Falconer - Video Profile

    • National Certificate in Electrical Engineering (Advanced Trade) (Level 5)

    In his busy position as wind technician and electrician at Meridian’s West Wind Farm in Makara, Wellington, Blair Falconer says distance learning was the best option for him. As he works to complete his National Certificate in Electrical Engineering, he shares how he fits in study with his hands- on job.

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  • James 137

    Pushing ahead

    • Bachelor of Engineering Technology (Mechanical Engineering)

    From creating engineering drawings to working in cross functional teams and analysing information for review, James Tala says that working towards his Bachelor of Engineering Technology (Mechanical Engineering) gave him confidence in his own ability and a desire to achieve more.

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  • Cameron 137px

    Finding a Learning Style

    • Bachelor of Social Work

    The Open Polytechnic Library and Learning Centre provides students with a wide range of learning support, advice and resources. It is this support, and that of his lecturers, which has made all the difference for Cameron Wendelken in his study journey.

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  • Website1

    Applying Learning in Real Time

    • Certificate in Public Relations and Communication Management (Level 5)

    The first student to complete a cross-credit towards a Certificate in Public Relations, through the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand’s APR ( Accreditation in Public Relations) programme, Grace Loftus, says her studies have made her more mindful of how communication should work in an organisation. 

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  • Faye Website

    Forging her Own Path

    • Bachelor of Applied Science (Environment)

    Regardless of your status in life, anyone can study and achieve their goals, says Faye Richards, who has completed her Bachelor of Applied Sciences (Environment). 

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  • Leewhiteweb

    Lifelong Learning

    • Graduate Diploma in Business (Level 7)

    “Make sure the pathway you start on will lead you to where you ultimately want to get”, advice that was given to Lee White by a colleague has seen her work towards a Graduate Diploma in Business through the Open Polytechnic so that, as a nurse manager, she can move forward in her career.

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  • Websiteone

    Robyn Dyer

    • Certificate in Environment and Sustainability (Level 5)

    A desire to learn more about the environment led Robyn Dyer on a journey that has made an invaluable contribution to her community.

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  • DSC 1135

    Building the foundations of others

    • Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education)

    Glenn Orsbourne knows a lot about foundations, for years he built and altered homes, but the Auckland-based father of four now creates foundations of a different sort, laying down the initial building blocks for future learning as an early childhood teacher, a career transition made possible through studying the Open Polytechnic Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education).


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  • Elizabeth main

    Elizabeth Charlton

    • Diploma in Records and Information Management (Level 6)

    A guardian of New Zealand’s story, this is how archivist Elizabeth Charlton sees herself and her dedication to learning how to be the best guardian of precious resources motivated her to attend the prestigious 47th Annual Georgia Archives Institute in America. 

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  • LKP8841 Low Res

    Finding Donna’s Passion

    • Bachelor of Social Work

    Donna DeCleene (Ngāti Kuia) always wanted to do good things with her life.

    However it wasn’t until she completed an online survey to do with her interests and passions that she realised she had the skills and qualities to help others.

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  • LKP8994 Low Res

    Passionate about Connecting with Others

    • Bachelor of Social Work

    Alex Wong (Ngāpuhi) enjoys meeting people and helping them out.

    Wanting to turn his passion of working with people into a career, Alex chose the Open Polytechnic Bachelor of Social Work by distance because he can fit study around his current job as a chef and bartender.

    Alex also felt that the degree best matched his interests and will give him good employment prospects.

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    Gillian Budd

    • Certificate in Quality Assurance (Level 5)

    Gillian Budd wanted a qualification that would improve her career prospects and give her new skills for her role as quality assurance officer at Dunedin City Council. However, having left school with no formal qualification, she was nervous about taking the next step into academic study.

    Today, Gillian is proud of achieving the Certificate in Quality Assurance.

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  • SandraJohnson

    Taking Challanges in her Stride

    • Bachelor of Business (Management)

    Sandra Johnson is not a woman that lets anything stop her achieving her goals.

    During her time studying by distance for a Bachelor of Business (Management) with Open Polytechnic she coped with sick children, a flooded basement and a power cut on the night before an exam.

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  • Tiana Samasoni137

    Tiana Samasoni

    • Diploma in Communication Studies (Level 5)

    Open Polytechnic Pasifika Study Award recipient Tiana Samasoni first started studying with the Open Polytechnic while on maternity leave in 2008.

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  • SkyeMagic137

    Becoming Licenced to Offer More

    After graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in Human Anatomy and Structural Biology and a Masters in Entrepreneurship from Otago University, Skye moved to Wellington to start her working career.

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  • Shaun Burnett

    Shaun Burnett

    • Certificate in Environmental Management (Level 6)

    Keen deer stalker Shaun Burnett wanted to know more about legislation and how decisions are made in government. So he decided to study for the Open Polytechnic’s Diploma in Environmental Management.

    “I’m really interested in deer and enjoy being involved in the consultation processes with the Department of Conservation, however I wasn’t confident that I knew enough about our conservation framework and environmental legislation.”

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  • SharonMark

    Sharon Mark

    • Bachelor of Arts (Communication)

    A life-long learner, New Plymouth’s Sharon Mark has found a new door opening for her each time she completed a qualification with the Open Polytechnic.

    Originally beginning her learning journey in the 1990s, Sharon then went on to complete an adult education qualification to gain a promotion as a staff trainer and health and safety officer at a local retirement village.

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  • Anita 137x112 web2

    Taking the next step

    • Bachelor of Engineering Technology (Civil Engineering)

    As a child Anita Jackson always wanted to understand how things work. Completing a Bachelor of Engineering Technology with the Open Polytechnic meant that she could align her interests with a career.

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  • Richard Miller 137x112 web

    From Capentry to Quantity Surveying

    Graduating in Quantity Surveying from the Open Polytechnic has helped Richard Miller change his career from carpentry to quantity surveying.

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  • Nicola OSullivan web

    Sold on a career change

    For many people a career change can be a daunting prospect, but for recent graduate of the National Certificate in Real Estate (Salesperson), Nicola O’Sullivan, being able to study through the Open Polytechnic meant she had the flexibility to continue working while gaining her new qualification.

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  • JanelleWilson

    Being a role model through study

    • Bachelor of Applied Science (Psychology)
    • Diploma in Applied Mental Health (Level 6)
    • Diploma in Psychology (Level 5)

    When she took up study with the Open Polytechnic solo Mum Janelle Wilson wanted to show her five kids that you can achieve anything you set your mind to.

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  • HanaWhaangaweb3

    A librarian’s love for the community

    • Diploma in Information and Library Studies (Level 5)
    • Diploma in Information and Library Studies (Level 6)

    Wanting to get the best of both worlds, Hana Whaanga (Ngāti Kahungunu) enrolled with the Open Polytechnic so she could have the freedom to choose where and when she studied while she earned a living doing what she loves, working for the community as a librarian.

    Hana, who is of Ngāti Kahungunu descent, first tried studying a different field with a local university.  But attending classes full-time while working part-time took her too far away from her real love of being immersed in the library profession.

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  • EricaAlefosio290611

    Erica Alefosio

    Erica Alefosio is a firm believer in the power of education to change lives.  She’s studying with the Open Polytechnic to progress her career in the legal profession, and at the same time role modelling good study habits to her children.

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  • Suzanne MacLean for web

    Becoming an Agent

    After working as a real estate salesperson for almost a decade, Suzanne MacLean, wanted to take her career with Barfoot & Thompson to the next level, so she enrolled in the National Diploma in Real Estate (Agent) (Level 5) through the Open Polytechnic.

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  • Stephanie Browning for web

    Long term planning pays off

    • Bachelor of Engineering Technology (Civil Engineering)

    The drive to succeed and “just keep going” kept Open Polytechnic Bachelor of Engineering Technology (Civil Engineering) graduate, Stephanie Browning, motivated as she juggled finishing her degree on top of full time work, getting married and having a baby.

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  • For Web

    Shaping his own Sucess

    • National Certificate in Horticulture (Level 3)

    Since graduating with the National Certificate in Horticulture, Bayley LuuTomes gardening career has sky rocketed, winning multiple awards for his landscaping designs both nationally and internationally.

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  • Tala Malaki for web5

    Tala Malaki

    • Graduate Certificate in Primary Science Teaching (Curriculum) (Level 7)

    Keen to develop science leadership in the school, Tala Malaki’s principal suggested the Graduate Certificate in Primary Science Teaching (Curriculum) Level 7 to her. Tala took up the challenge and hasn’t looked back.

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    Amanda Cameron

    National Diploma in Architectural Technology graduate, Amanda Cameron’s passion for architecture began as a child building houses from Lego, an interest which only continued to grow with her favourite subject at school -graphics. 

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  • Lila Vagana web

    Lila Vagana

    • Bachelor of Social Work

    After working in mental health for almost two decades, Lila Vagana, with the support of her employer, decided it was time to pursue her degree in social work.

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  • Mark and Catherine

    Mark and Catherine - Video Profile

    • Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education)

    Meet Mark and Catherine, husband and wife. Both never imagined doing a degree - now they are studying the Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education) together! See how they motivate and support each other with their studies.

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  • Mary Ann Newhouse Web

    Mary-Ann - Video Profile

    • Diploma in Child and Adolescent Psychology (Level 6)

    Mary-Ann left school when she was 14. She had no formal education before studying with the Open Polytechnic. Motivated by a better future for her six kids, she took the leap and enrolled. This is her story.

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  • LaChelle screen shot WEB

    La'Chelle - Video Profile

    • Diploma in Public Relations and Communication Management (Level 6)

    Wanting to build her confidence and prove to herself that she could do 'something big', La'Chelle decided to pursue her dream of getting a qualification. Now having graduated with her Diploma in Public Relations and Communication Management, La'Chelle shares her experiences and her study tips.

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  • Web1

    Jo Hawthorne and Eileen Falconer

    • Graduate Certificate in Primary Science Teaching (Curriculum) (Level 7)

    Lower Hutt teachers, Jo Hawthorne and Eileen Falconer are not only inspiring their students through exciting and engaging learning experiences, after completing the Graduate Certificate in Primary Science Teaching( Curriculum)  through the Open Polytechnic, New Zealand’s distance learning specialist, they are more confident within their own teaching practice.

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