A desire for personal achievement, dogged determination and support from the Open Polytechnic are the main factors Sharon Gordon attributes to her study success.
Graduating with a Graduate Diploma in Professional Accounting Level 7, Sharon has been studying on and off since the early 1990’s, completing her graduate diploma with the distance learning specialist this year.
“I started off studying at Unitec initially because I wanted to further myself. I never achieved at school and hadn’t been encouraged to study. I was interested in hospitality and after achieving top student overall in the hospitality course I completed, I was egged on a bit to study further,” Sharon explains.
After asking a lecturer what else she could study, she was advised to consider completing a New Zealand Diploma in Business. After completing her diploma at Unitec, Sharon then went onto complete her Bachelor of Business majoring in Accounting at the Open Polytechnic before deciding to complete her graduate diploma.
Part-time study convenient
With working full time, Sharon found part-time study the best option for her.
“It was convenient and I could choose when and where I did my study,” she explains, adding that the support and encouragement she gained from the Open Polytechnic’s Learning Centre was invaluable in helping her to continue with her study when she needed help on top of the teaching support provided by lecturers.
“I was finding study difficult before I contacted the Learning Centre, because I was going through a difficult stage personally. I wanted to achieve but felt I needed more encouragement. The Learning Centre gave me a totally different outlook on my studies. They made me feel like I could do it. If I didn’t have that feedback, I think I could have easily given up.”
One aspect of support the Learning Centre was able to offer Sharon was extra time during her examinations.
“I have a disabled right hand and was always nervous when writing exams. I suppose it was a mental block, but I would get so nervous. Just having an extra 30 minutes took some of the pressure off. It was something so simple, that made such a big difference, I could think more clearly.”
In addition to working for herself, Sharon says completing her study has given her a lot more confidence within herself.
“I have this knowledge and these skills I can share with others either through work, or through my personal life. Another thing that helped me while I was studying was being part of Toastmasters. When learning how to speak publicly or studying, you have to leave your comfort zone, that isn’t to say you won’t be nervous at times, but you can learn to become more confident.”
Sharon says her experience has been an encouragement to her children too. One of her daughters is currently working towards a doctorate in agriculture and she feels she was able to be a positive role model and set a good example for her family.
Her advice for anyone considering study is not to give up, or to be put off by setbacks along the way.
“The fact that you put so much time and money into it, whether you personally, or if your study is paid for by your employer, it is in your best interests that you continue and achieve that outcome you are after, otherwise you will never know if you could have done it!” she says.
“You have got to keep going, no matter what. Don’t let anything let you think otherwise, don’t just accept what is in front of you. Learn from the mistakes you make and keep on going. Setting yourself a goal and keep on trying to achieve in the end it pays off, keep persevering and you will get there. Once you finish, you will have knowledge and skills to take with you forever.”