An ode to University


Earlier this year I was one out of a group of students from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences to win an Outstanding Achievement award. The organisers asked me if I could give the student speech on the night. Along with this being pretty fucking awesome to have been asked it was also nervewracking. A few of my lecturers said they would come along, plus it was a bit intense having to think about speaking on behalf of the other students. I didn’t want to read off cards so I spent a week writing numerous drafts that all sounded extremely contrived and basically just shite. I know this is not just me saying it as I read a version of one of them out to Rob and he who is normally very positive and upbeat about my writing paused and said, “the end bit works”……..quite.

The night before the event loomed and I still had no speech. Every time I thought about delivering one of my 5th-form-English drafts of turd to a full room I broke out into a cold sweat. Not ideal. Then I remembered that a good friend had recently told me about a speech she’d given in similar circumstances and how she’d structured it. Give it a title and treat it like a piece of creative writing. Give it some themes to hang the information on. Give it a beginning, a middle, and an end and inject a bit of humour (that bit’s tricky). Whaddya know, as soon as I stopped trying to construct a ‘speech’, and just chilled the fuck out, the words came easily.
Then on the day, I found that getting up in front of everyone was actually ok. I had to read from a piece of paper as I’d left it so late but….that was ok too. In fact, the whole experience just reaffirmed for me that jumping into a three-year degree at the age of 39 is still one of the top three best decisions of my life. And now it’s done.
So in light of me finishing my uni degree I thought I’d publish the speech that I gave on the day. It’s not perfect but I reckon it encapsulates my feels pretty succinctly. Dad even got a vid of it which you can watch if you can’t be arsed reading any more text. The opening bit is cut off but you’ll get a general idea. So long uni, I’m sure gonna miss ya.

Leap of Faith
By: Emma Bartlett

Link to Youtube video.

First off I’d just like to say big congratulations to the other student’s here today accepting their awards and a thank you to all those involved in organising and coordinating this event. I’d also like to thank the College for allowing me the opportunity to speak on behalf of the student’s today.

I’m currently in the third year of my bachelor of communication degree and I’ve been doing this full time since the beginning of 2015. Taking three years out of my career required a huge leap of faith but I can tell you hand on heart that I have not regretted it even for one second.

So I’d like to touch on a couple of things that were significant for me in those initial stages of leaving full-time work and coming to Massey. The first of these was a yearning. At the time I was working for a production company out in Miramar and was on the production or project management side of things. My days were full of multi-tasking, people wrangling and organisational madness, yet I wanted more. I didn’t know what that ‘more’ was but the yearning was persistent enough for me to contact Massey and start the enrolment process.

The second significant thing was fear. There’s nothing quite like arriving on campus for your first day of uni as a 39 year old full of fear of the unknown. Yet as I sat in LT200 surrounded by about 150 others, all considerably younger than me, I could see that I wasn’t the only one who was riddled with nerves, and that it was going to be alright. It was also fear that drove me to spend an entire week agonising over that first draft of my first essay, and fear that convinced me that I was doomed every time I pressed ‘submit’ on the Stream assignment button.

Yet as the first year progressed that fear started to ease away and was replaced with other driving motivators like curiosity, passion and determination. The more I learned, the more curious I became and that inquisitiveness has helped me to become a critical thinker. The more I learned, I realised it was media studies and critical theory that I was drawn to. I remember sitting in a lecture theatre and the lecturer was intensely describing the complexities of the global media sphere with passionate conviction and something just clicked in my head. I realised that I wanted to learn how to write or speak with as much passion as he was.

There’s something immensely gratifying about being able to take the information in your head, your internal language, and committing it to paper. That action from head to pen takes practice, well for me it did. I learned how to do this by sitting in classes. By soaking up the information given, by asking questions, by thinking critically, and by seeking out more knowledge, all the time, even when I didn’t want to.

This leads me to the other factor that drives me, which is determination. I love that uni is hard. I love that the coursework requires me to devote hours or days even, in researching a topic. I think if it wasn’t hard I wouldn’t be so determined to get it right all of the time. For me, it’s a really simple equation. I have chosen a subject that I am passionate about, I try and give each task as much as I can throw at it and I find that I get out of it what I put in.

To finish off I’d just like to say that I truly believe that coming back to uni as a mature student has totally changed my life. I started my degree with certain expectations and these have been exceeded tenfold. I’m going to finish at the end of this year with not only a tertiary qualification but also tangible, transferable skills that I can take into the job market. Most importantly for me I’m going to be leaving Massey with a desire for knowledge and deeper learning; and I think in today’s climate, this is going to prove to be an essential tool. Lastly, there is no way that Massey is getting rid of me as I’ve completely caught the study bug and am already planning ways I can come back and get stuck into postgrad!

So I’m really grateful for the support from the faculty and fellow student’s, and just want to say a big thank you again.


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