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Student Returning After 18 Years Gets Friendly Surprise

Whanganui-based Wendy Johns has returned to UCOL eighteen years after she left with one goal in mind – to finish what she started. Having left her New Zealand Diploma in Business qualification halfway in 2004, she kept thinking about her “missed opportunity” that could’ve supported her career.

Wendy Johns

So imagine her surprise when she re-enrolled and met two friendly faces – the same lecturers who had taught her all those years ago! “I was so glad to find out that Phil Thompsen (Senior Lecturer – Business) and Helen Atkinson (Lecturer – Business) were teaching my class! They taught me years back and having a connection with them made it much easier for me to settle in,” says Wendy.

The 49-year-old, mother-of-two is now completing her qualification part-time, while working full-time as the Administration Manager at Plumber Dan. “I’d been meaning to complete this diploma for some time now, and it all worked out thanks to the Chamber of Commerce scholarship,” she adds. UCOL teamed up with Manawatū, Whanganui, and Wairarapa Chambers of Commerce last year to offer free qualifications to improve the capabilities of local businesses.

Wendy finds she has something new to learn in every class and it’s a great assistance at work too. An accounting whizz, she particularly loves working with numbers. “I guess I’m quite analytical and I really like to make things balance when it comes to the admin side of things. Interacting with customers and helping resolve their concerns are also things I really enjoy about my current role,” she adds.

Between work, classes, two kids, and supporting a number of local charities, Wendy’s said that being able to literally walk from home to classes is a lifesaver. “That proximity and travelling convenience, when I’m trying to have a good work-life balance, was really important to me,” says Wendy. “It just wouldn’t have worked for me to go somewhere farther.” Once her qualification is complete, she plans on putting her new skills into action, and wants to develop herself further in the business accounting.

UCOL’s New Zealand Diploma in Business offers two pathways, Accounting or Leadership and Management. Classes for February have already started, but it’s not too late to enrol and join. There will also be another intake in July. Anyone interested in can phone 0800 GO UCOL or email

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