After five years of study, and six months of waiting (because I completed the degree mid-year), I now have the physical degree I have been going for. Although this ‘piece of paper/cardboard’ is the most expensive I have ever owned (at a total cost of $50k), the graduation represents the completion of a goal I planned years earlier. This also represents the fact I have stuck at a goal for so long, and have negotiated myself past many hurdles on a roller-coaster-like journey to get to the end.
The graduation ceremony, at the Dunedin Town Hall, went far better than what I dreamed of many years ago. After waiting forever to get organised, we (the graduating students) proceeded to the main seating area in the hall. Along the way, we were met with all the staff clapping us on – it reminded me of a flash-mob for some reason, but for all the good reasons. This part of the ceremony is one I will always remember – I am really grateful to all the staff that have helped me out during my time at Otago Polytechnic, and appreciate them recognizing all the students’ efforts.
Five years earlier I was in the same town hall, graduating with two level-four certificates from Aoraki Polytechnic. At the ceremony for my degree, my mind was briefly cast back to when I got the two certificates – that was the time when I realised I was on the right journey, and also knowing I had the same goals and desires career-wise.
While I am very grateful to all the staff and students who put up with me, I can’t leave out my family when making acknowledgements. If it hadn’t been for them, I wouldn’t have got to the ceremony and obtained the degree. There were some times during the studies where I felt like giving up, or felt I wasn’t living up to peoples’ expectations – but I realised I wasn’t alone in my pursuits and had a solid foundation of support. I am also very grateful to my partner and son, whose time I had to sacrifice for the degree – sometimes it was upsetting losing large amounts of time with them, but I knew I needed to be successful to build a more solid future.
Although I have now achieved a long-term goal of mine, the journey hasn’t ended entirely. As an honorary degree nomination mentioned, learning doesn’t stop at graduation when you get the piece of paper, it is a life-long exercise. Over the entire time I have been studying, I have spent hundreds of hours going over numerous programming forums and tutorials, to increase my skills in my own time. It is through doing these activities I have developed a stronger interest in web development – it is a really good feeling knowing my skills will help other people, which gives extra motivation for extra-curricular and personal learning.