Kylie Woods is grateful for the second chance at education provided by Open Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga, as she works towards her goal of becoming a support worker.
Until a few years ago, her education journey had taken a back seat to looking after family, including her three children, who are now adults.
Now, finding the flexibility of distance learning meant she could fit study around her other commitments, she is proud to have completed the New Zealand Certificate in Foundation (Levels 1 and 2) and the New Zealand Certificate in Computing (Level 2).
Next on her learning journey is study towards the New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing so that she can fulfil her dream of becoming a support worker.
The support of Open Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga
Kylie is grateful for the assistance of the “supportive and really friendly” Open Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga staff.
If she got stuck on something, her tutors were always ready to help said Kylie. “They were positive and amazing. I emailed them and they gave me quick calls back.”
She also gave a “big shout out” to her tutor, Mel Boyd, for her support.
“I had quite an old school laptop that I did my computing course on,” Kylie said.
“It was quite hard to operate on. She would send me videos on how she would do it on her laptop, so I could try it from my end.”
Kylie’s learner journey
In 2020, more than 20 years since leaving high school early, Kylie decided to enrol with Open Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga, to dip her toes back into the learning pool.
“It is something that has always bugged me, I didn’t think I had enough knowledge or the skills to pass exams or anything like that, so I had put it on the backburner,” she said.
“Then I thought that I would give it a go, to be a good role model for my kids and teach them that with the right resources and support they can achieve their goals and dreams and to give things a go.”
She enrolled in and passed the New Zealand Certificate in Foundation (Level 1) in 2020. Since then, she has also completed both the New Zealand Certificate in Foundation (Level 2) and New Zealand Certificate in Computing (Level 2).
Her aim from the outset, was to utilise the skills she had learnt in the foundation studies and computer courses, to then study towards the New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing (Social and Community Services) (Level 4).
This would allow her to reach her goal of becoming a support worker in her local community.
“I actually found it really helpful, and I gained a lot of knowledge by doing them and it seemed a lot easier than it did when I was at school,” she said.
“I don’t know if that is because I had more knowledge with age or what it was, but I found it really easy to manage. There were a few things I found quite difficult, but I learnt a lot.”
Benefits of distance study
For Christchurch-based Kylie, her decision to study through Open Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga rather than other institutions, was mainly due to the flexibility.
She enjoys being able to learn online in her own “home environment” and to save on the petrol costs, by not having to drive to classes.
The practical skills Kylie has learnt so far have helped her get a job looking after holiday accommodation, on the back of her newly acquired computer skills.
She now regularly uses mobile apps for communication with staff, owners, tradespeople, and to manage guest bookings. Kylie also orders supplies, reports damage and takes notes on necessary materials or items which require maintenance, like leaking taps. She also completes monthly invoices, using a link and template provided by her employer.
“Without the knowledge and skills I learnt through the computer course, I would have struggled with all of this,” Kylie said.
Kylie also found the New Zealand Certificate in Computing (Level 2) practical for helping others, including her father who has a kitchen joinery business, JJS Joinery.
“It has been absolutely amazing, since I did my computing courses, I have actually managed to set him up a website and created invoices for him,” she said.
“With the world going the way it is, I am really glad I did those courses, because it is the way of the world now.”
“I have just learnt so many skills that I can help so many people. With knowing the basic skills that I do, I can generally solve the problem and overcome the challenge.”
Kylie also found it helpful and intriguing to learn about internet privacy and policies, including what you can and cannot use on the internet and how to be safe online. This has helped Kylie educate her children at the same time.
New sense of confidence
Now Kylie has a renewed sense of purpose after gaining new skills and confidence through study.
“It has given me a more positive mindset and a more go-get-it attitude,” Kylie said.
“I am more motivated, and it has given me a lot of self-confidence.
“Knowing that I can do it and it wasn’t something that was too hard or in the too-hard-basket. I took the risk, and I overcame the challenge. Mental health-wise it is fantastic, and I recommend it for people in similar situations as me.”
Kylie has been receiving some great support from her family throughout her learning journey.
“They were all encouraging me along the way and if there was something that I wasn’t too sure on and if they didn’t know how to help me, we would find out the answer together.”
“We would all learn something new together, so it was quite cool to do it that way.”
Kylie wants to return to study next year, to achieve her dream of becoming a support worker.
She is searching for a placement for practical training, while studying the New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing (Social and Community Services) (Level 4).
“My end goal is that I want to become a support worker out in the community,” she said.
“So, the community strand health and wellbeing level 4 programme is something I am really wanting to do in the near future.”