- Massey Extramural Graduates at the 2012 EXMSS Graduation Dinner
It was an evening of laughter and tears as former extramural students gathered together as fresh faced alumni to share their stories and celebrate their recent graduation at the annual EXMSS graduation dinner.
The graduation celebration is an annual event, organised by the Massey University Extramural Students’ Society. Regularly supported Massey senior staff, the graduation dinner has been running for over fifteen years. This year the event attracted over 60 guests, including 11 graduates, their families and supporters and featured an entertaining address by this year’s guest speaker, Dr Richard Shaw.
But the spotlight was firmly on the graduates, and each was given the opportunity to share their story of what it is to study extramurally. Many took the opportunity to thank their families and spouses for their support and many also recounted how important the option to study part-time, extramurally had been to their lives.
For three special graduates, the graduation dinner was the first time they had met in person as Claire Farnan-Sestino, Michaela Gallear and Jennifer Mofflin, attested. Through their studies in social anthropology the trio had formed a virtual study group via Skype; Claire from the US, Jennifer from Otago and Michaela from Tauranga. With regular Skype meetings they supported each other as they tackled the common extramural experience of isolation. As Claire recounted it was the shared challenge of trying to understand French theorist, Foucault that first brought them together. And while the trio had been friends throughout their studies, it was only on the previous day, their graduation in Palmerston North, that they had met in person for the first time.
Anne Palmer, a long time EXMSS staff member and advocate for extramurals, graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree in history. Anne started her journey into tertiary study in 1980. And, with various interruptions that included the birth of her three children, Anne completed her degree 31 years later. Anne recounted a geography exam where she finished with a note to her lecturer; “I can’t write anymore, this baby is kicking too much.” The baby in question, her daughter Elaina, shared her graduation day, graduating from Massey Wellington with a degree in Early Childhood.
Jim Kennedy who, as a former chef in the isolated region of Milford Sound, cited his reasons for study as the ‘only alternative between the pub or TV. As he recounted his studies started as a hobby but then became an addiction. Jim gave special thanks to his wife Heather who for her support and proofreading skills.
Stephanie Kirk, a local extramural from Feilding, celebrated the evening with her husband Lyndon. Stephanie began by confessing to be a mixed-mode student, having studied both extramurally and internally. She gave special thanks her husband for his support over the course of her nine years’ studying. Stephanie also thanked her brother for his helpful words of advice – “Just get on with it” – when in the final stressful weeks of her final paper, she was considering dropping out. Having gotten on with it and succeeded, Stephanie graduated with a Diploma in Arts, majoring in Linguistics. And having crossed the stage for the first time she is keen to repeat the experience – next time for the degree.
Liz Hamilton admitted to being something of a connoisseur of tertiary institutions. Over the course of her studies she attended first Otago, then Massey, then Otago, and finally Massey. As with many other graduates Liz noted the advantages of studying extramurally; finally completing her studies in Japanese in France. Liz gave thanks to her “long suffering” husband and also thanked EXMSS for awarding her a Scholarship for Academic Excellence.
Maxine Digan summed her success up with the traditional saying, “We are only here because of all the people standing behind us.” Maxine began her studies in 1976 when she studied Te Reo at Otago. Of Nga Puhi heritage, Maxine was prompted by her husband to continue her studies. In 1992 she studied the Treaty of Waitangi paper through Massey and found extramural studies suited her. Maxine thanked her four children for their support and, in particular, her daughter who told her that with multichoice exams, if you’re not sure what the answer is, “always pick B!”
Robyn Savage had travelled all the way from Invercargill to attend the graduation celebrations. Robyn started her studies because, as she said, “It was time to do something for myself”. She began with a paper in women’s studies at SIT. Robyn started studying in her early fifties and made a goal that she would complete her degree by age sixty. A goal she was happy to achieve. Robyn also paid tribute to her friend and study companion, Cathy who sadly passed away before completing her studies.
Marsha Racey-Stilwell – a self proclaimed shrinking violet returned to the EXMSS graduation dinner for a second time in two years! Having graduated last year, Marsha returned this year celebrating her Masters in Education. Marsha thanked her father for his inspiration as well as her husband Myles. Now teaching at UCOL, Marsha finished with a saying she often shared with her students, “Keep at it. It’s worth the journey.”
Delwyn Sinclair began her extramural studies with a paper in Human Development in 1989. Unfortunately glandular fever put an end to her first foray and it wasn’t until 2009 when further changes to her job gave Delwyn the opportunity to complete her studies. Graduating with a Graduate Diploma in Business Studies, Delwyn thanked her husband Kevin for all his support and assistance. Delwyn and also gave special thanks to Lois Wilkinson of Massey’s centre for Teaching and Learning for her support.
The evening was also attended by Massey’s Chancellor, Dr Russ Ballard. “Extramural students are what define Massey University,” said Dr Ballard, who also noted the evening was an exemplar of the “fantastic interplay between Massey staff and students.”