Maree had been thinking about going back to study for at least five-to-ten years before she did. As the only breadwinner, being a solo mother, Maree waited patiently until her three children were out of home and settled. With space in her life once more, she decided she wanted ‘to do more and get more out of her life’.
“I really wanted the very best for myself than I was currently experiencing. I wanted to study, get a better job, and work on managing my money better.”
The natural-born multitasker was spurred on by the fact that she was approaching the upper age limit of 55 for Studylink loans and allowances. She felt she had to act sooner rather than later.
Maree signed up to complete the New Zealand Certificate in Business (Administration and Technology) Level 3. It would give her plenty of scope, as she figured most businesses need administrators. Maree had worked in offices and banks earlier in her life. She felt a deep desire to return to a stimulating career. One that would be challenging in a mental way, not a physical way.
“It was a bit scary giving up full time work and taking the risk of plunging into the unknown, not to mention fitting into a classroom again and still having to work part time to support myself. One young guy in my class was at school with one of my daughters!”
After completing the Level 3 certificate, Maree continued onto the Level 4 certificate. At the completion of this, Maree did some volunteer work and was then lucky enough to gain a part time position with Nelson Pine Industries as an intern. She returned to NMIT in mid 2016 to complete the New Zealand Diploma in Business (Administration and Technology) Level 5.
“This course (Level 5) was another journey in itself. More challenging and self-directed. But like the others I emerged out the other side, and another bonus was having my contract extended with Nelson Pine Industries for another period.”
The study journey wasn’t all a ‘bed of roses’, says Maree, who visited her head tutor, Pauline Carson, early on, feeling overwhelmed and in need of support.
“I thought I was in the wrong level or class. Pauline reassured me that I was, and would be fine, and that after six weeks things would get easier and to just hang in there like I was on a swing.”
The other comment Pauline made, which Maree found helpful, was to ‘read the screen’.
“This piece of advice really worked. Being an older student, we hit panic mode and think what do I do? I learned to take my time and read what it says...and not let anxiety kick in.”
It took commitment, determination and hard work, says Maree, but she kept going, fed on a diet of positive self-talk.
“One of the best things has been watching how much bigger and better my world has become from my personal growth and the tremendous boost in confidence the learning and the achieving of steps along the way has given me.”
Compared to her life before NMIT, Maree feels on top of the world. She has invested in the property market. Her role with Nelson Pine Industries is going well. She teaches music part time and also maintains a retail job with Farmers on Sundays.
“I would like to encourage anyone who is thinking about studying later in life, but especially solo mums or people who think they might not be able to, to just explore the options and do it if they can. It has been an amazing, fulfilling and exciting journey and so so worthwhile. It has honestly been one of the best things I have ever done in my entire life.”