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NorthTec conservation student Alex Going does a great job of juggling work, studies and parenting as she progresses towards gaining her degree.
Alex, from Whangarei, is mother to two young boys aged 16 months and 11. She is halfway through her studies at NorthTec, where she is aiming for a Bachelor of Applied Science (Biodiversity Management) and is also working part-time for Northland Regional Council (NRC).
Her tutors consider the 30-year-old to be a top student, and also praise her for her enthusiasm, hard work and forward planning. Alex says the key to her success so far has been staying highly organised, having a passion for what she is doing, and having the support of her tutors.
She has also benefitted from some flexibility in her study programme, having taken a six-month break to have her second son but being able to return to the classroom without a hitch.
Conservation and Environmental Management tutor, Tanya Cook, said: “Alex is very passionate, very capable, organised and hard-working. She is always prepared for lectures, has read up in advance and contributes in class.”
Alex worked in a number of jobs, including administration, hospitality and dairy farming, before embarking on her environmental studies programme. She has now found her true passion lies in conservation, and is delighted to be working part-time as an Environmental Monitoring Officer for the NRC’s State of the Environment team, specialising in freshwater ecology.
Alex said: “I came in not having a clear career path. I knew I wanted to be outdoors but I didn’t have a clear view of what I wanted to do. When I took a paper on freshwater ecology it really caught my interest and I felt really passionate about it - it’s all exciting, all the time.”
She is currently working for NRC monitoring periphyton, an algae found growing on rock surfaces in fresh water, and although still in her second year of studies, is already working to develop her third-year research project so that by the time she starts, her research will be stronger.
Alex said: “My plan is to keep working part-time while I study. With my work, study and the kids I have had to become this really efficient person – also quite nocturnal, as I do most of my studying at night!
“The NorthTec programme exposes you to such a wide range of career paths. My dream was to get a job with the regional council, and while I know I have many ranks to climb, I am in the right place. I would like to do some postgraduate study as well, if I can keep my grades high enough to have that option.
“It takes a lot of courage to go back into education but once you’re there it’s great. Education gives such a lot of meaning to your life, a lot of self-growth and the confidence to go out and achieve what you want.”
Alex said her study journey has also benefitted her family: “It has been wonderful for my oldest son, it’s been a great teaching experience. I’m not just telling him do his homework, I’m sitting next to him doing mine. I’ve had some really high grades and I share that with him because it’s inspiring for him. He knows he can ask for help and is very open with me about his schoolwork, because he knows I ask my tutors for help too.
“That is the nice thing about NorthTec, I just can’t believe how helpful my tutors are. They go above and beyond for us and their passion is contagious. You just feel really blessed to have such a strong team to be working with, they have got unbelievable experience under their belts.”
She has also been pleased to find that when she started working, the skills she has learned are directly transferable to the workplace: “I’m now using those exact same skills at the exact same level in my job. It was fantastic to be able to walk in and know I could do things straight away.”
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