Passionate about connecting with others

Watch Alex tell his story here
Alex Wong
  • Ngāpuhi

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 was able to fit study around his job at the time as a chef and bartender.

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

Having previously trained as a massage therapist at a face-to-face polytechnic, Alex says he prefers distance learning in comparison because he was able to study autonomously wherever he liked.

Sense of connection

Not far into the degree, the Te Ao Māori and Social Work Practice course reinvigorated Alex’s thirst to connect with his heritage.

“It was extremely beneficial to both my understanding and personal growth and has inspired me to work with my community"  

Alex also enjoyed attending the noho marae workshop because he was able to establish relationships with “Kaiako” (lecturers) and “Tauira” (students).

“My whanau are also extremely supportive of my studies and although I don’t have any immediate family that have been through university, my whaea kēkē (Aunty), who is academically skilled and deeply involved in our Māori community, is always there to help me with queries regarding Māori culture and my whakapapa.”

Alex's advice

When asked what advice he would give to people considering study by distance, Alex says it is essential to have a study routine otherwise he has found that time flies very quickly.

“Life is full and there is always so much going on that it is hard to keep study as a priority, which is what it needs to be if you want to do well. But the prospect of being a successful social worker outweighed the struggle by far,” he says.

Alex thinks that one of the best aspects of the degree is that he was encouraged to delve more deeply into his personal principals, ethics, morals and the structure of New Zealand and overseas societies.

Alex has since graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work and is happily doing “mahi” on the frontline as a social worker, working with homeless whanau in the community. 

It was extremely beneficial to both my understanding and personal growth and has inspired me to want to work with Māori communities once I have my degree.