After previous study in the early childhood education field, Nita Nagel made the decision to extend her passion for helping young people in her community by enrolling in a Bachelor of Social Work through the Open Polytechnic.
Nita’s desire to help people stemmed from her personal life experiences and the circumstances that she faced when she was younger. Once she had two children of her own, the desire to help young people only grew and she became more interested in pursuing tertiary education to help her achieve her goals.
“I always knew I wanted to do tertiary study, but I was never one hundred percent clear on the path that I should take,” says Nita. “When I had my children at home with me and I was thinking about my future work plans I started doing research on my interests and how they would fit in to study.”
Between looking after her children and living in a small town, Nita needed an option where she could study at her own pace from the comfort of her home. “Because I had two kids under the age of five I needed something that offered flexibility,” she says. Nita’s research into study options found Open Polytechnic was best suited to her needs.
The flexibility of distance learning allowed Nita to manage her workload, especially when life got a bit busy. “I managed this by adjusting my courses to be flexible with my schedule. I was able to pick and choose how much work I took on at a time and it was a matter of a phone call to change my courses if I needed.”
Nita always felt well supported during her studies with Open Polytechnic. “I only have good things to say. Any time that I was feeling as if I needed extra help or support I always knew who to ask and where to go, whether it was jumping onto the online forums and asking the whole group or my tutors, or picking up the phone and ringing or emailing them, I always got a fairly prompt response.”
A sense of connection
Along with completing her coursework online, Nita was able to meet up with other Open Polytechnic students at noho marae gatherings and workshops.
When it came time to complete the practicums for her degree, Nita volunteered at the local resource centre and worked as a community carer. “I continued on at the resource centre because they did a community lunch where anybody could come and eat together. During my time as a carer I would visit the elderly in the local rest homes as well,” she says.
Focused on the future
Now that she has graduated, Nita says that she feels ready to put the skills that she has learned to the test. “One of the most important things for me is that I came out of this qualification feeling well equipped to contribute to the wellbeing of other people.”
“I wanted to be a role model to my children as well because they have been a part of this whole process too. They have seen the hard work that I’ve done, and I hope it shows them that they can do the same one day if they want to.”
“I’m quite proud of myself because it has been a long and difficult journey at times. There is a real sense of accomplishment and pride that comes with being one of the first people in my family to achieve a degree.”