Forging her own path

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). 

With a passion for the environment and for music, Faye says she has found creative inspiration through her courses too. While studying the short-tailed bat for an assignment for the course, “Introduction into New Zealand Ecology” she was inspired to write a song.

Pursuing her interests

“I have a love for the environment, science and music and hence I feel extremely blessed that I can incorporate all of these into my life,” she says, adding that the flexibility of distance study has allowed her the freedom to pursue all her interests.

At times, Faye, who had to relearn how to walk a few years ago due to Multiple Sclerosis, found her studies challenging, but also felt that striving towards a goal gave her direction and motivation.

“In general terms my MS has not affected by my studies, but it did provide a challenge when walking for kilometres over rough terrain over Arthur’s Pass looking for bats. With MS, everything is more difficult.  In theory other people should be better at study than I am, but I am passionate about everything I put my mind to and I really wanted to find out if there were bats in Arthurs Pass. I always give myself big challenges, but I cope,” she says.

Distance study best option

Not having to travel to classes has been one of the biggest benefits of distance study for Faye.

“I had to think, would I be too tired to drive because of my MS? It is one of the things you have to take into consideration,” she says adding that although she didn’t have direct contact with Open Polytechnic staff, she felt supported through her study.

“I have had numerous interactions with the call centre over the years and found them to be very helpful. I utilised the Online Campus all the time and the study material was of high quality.”

Faye says she particularly enjoyed the interaction with her lecturer, Mike Burtenshaw, as well as with other students online.

“It was great to interact with students to strike up a rapport. When I moved from one forum to another, a student remembered me! It was really cool that you could pick up that relationship later on,” she says.

“I found the lecturers brilliant, on the whole and the course work was well laid out.”

Future plans

Faye says that completing her degree has given her the opportunity to look at further study, with her ultimate goal to work in Antarctica. Until then, she plans on continuing with her musical pursuits.

“I would recommend doing a degree to anyone. It opens up your world. I think anyone can surprise themselves. Other people’s perceptions of what they deem you to be like, or what they think you are capable of can affect what you believe you are capable of yourself,” she says.

“I have chosen not to let MS define me. I don’t want to be like that, I forged my own path. They might have a cure for MS in the future but you can’t live for a cure. You have to live in the now.”

I found the lecturers brilliant, on the whole and the course work was well laid out.