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.
It was while working for the Department for Courts and Department of Corrections that Erica discovered an interest in the law. Wanting to turn her interest into a career, she decided the time was right to challenge herself and work towards becoming a legal executive.
She knew the move would involve study – and it would have to be worked around a full-time job and her family life.
Taking time away from her family so that she could study has been a tough decision says the mother of three. “Undertaking further study on my part increases my career prospects and financial status but it comes at a cost, and I have made many sacrifices in my family life to undertake this study.”
She hopes that the efforts she has put into her studies will benefit her family in the long term. “My heart is for my children to gain the best education and to provide the opportunities for them to reach their potential and succeed in whatever path they choose.”
Studying the New Zealand Law Society Legal Executive Diploma by distance learning with the Open Polytechnic has provided Erica with the flexibility she needs to fit her family and working life around her studies. “I study whenever I have time – usually after work and on the weekends.”
Studying with the Open Polytechnic also meant that when baby number three was on the way Erica could put her studies on hold, then pick them up again later.
“I did two papers and then put it all on hold for five years when my youngest child was born. Then I went into a new job as a Legal Secretary for Price Baker Berridge which involves a lot of legal executive work, including assisting with the drafting of most Court documents and letters.”
She says her studies to date and her previous work experience have combined to give her the knowledge she needs to be successful in her new role.
“The study materials from the Open Polytechnic are really good. I like having the progress reviews and the practice test questions after each topic. The tutors are great, too. It’s useful to have access to them if I need help with questions and to get their comments and feedback on my assignments.”
Erica was born in Apia, Samoa and during her time with the Open Polytechnic applied for and received a Pacific Study Award. The study award has been a big help in covering Erica’s study fees.
She says the support of her husband has been fantastic during her studies, taking on most family commitments so that she is free to study.
“My husband is very supportive. I am at the library most nights after work and he collects our youngest from school. The older two children meet me at the library and we study together.”
“I try to role model good study habits to my children. Both my husband and I encourage our children to aim high and do their very best in their education. My son was recently awarded a scholarship and also received a first prize in one of his subjects at his Senior School Prize Giving. We were very proud parents. Our children understand what the long-term benefits are from committing and disciplining themselves to serious study.”
“My advice to anyone embarking on any course of study is to do the small things well and the big things will take care of themselves.”
The Open Polytechnic is New Zealand’s specialist provider of open and distance learning offering a wide range of courses and programmes on a national basis. One of the largest polytechnics in the country, and a major educator of people in the workforce, nearly two thirds of the Open Polytechnic’s students study while in employment.
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