'Very, very happy' to complete degree

University of Otago mature student and now graduand Wallie Waudby (76) says ''it helps if you've...
University of Otago mature student and now graduand Wallie Waudby (76) says ''it helps if you've got a sense of humour''. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Mature student Wallie Waudby is ''over the moon'' to be graduating from the University of Otago with a BA in history today.

Mr Waudby (76) is among more than 370 Otago graduands who will graduate from the university in person, in a wide range of disciplines, at a 3pm ceremony at the Dunedin Town Hall.

He had previously never considered undertaking university study, but after retiring from Cadbury, Dunedin, in 2006 after 41 years working for the company in the city, he decided to try.

Having begun studies part-time in 2008, he was ''very, very happy'' to have completed his degree.

It had proved to be an ''amazing, rewarding experience''.

''I wouldn't have missed it for the world.''

That achievement had really only started to sink in after he picked up his capping regalia on Thursday.

''I've actually done it. I've certainly proved something to myself.''

Support from fellow students had been ''a great help'', and backing from staff at the Otago history and art history department had also been ''amazing''.

The university's Student Learning Centre had also been helpful, and he was deeply grateful for the unfailing support of his wife, Eileen.

''It was her idea and she pushed me really well.''

Irish-born Mr Waudby emigrated to New Zealand in 1966 with his wife and young son Andrew.

Mr Waudby had already worked for Cadbury for six years in Birmingham, England, before transferring to the firm's Dunedin plant.

He initially envisaged taking a two-year break before heading back to England, but Dunedin began to grow on them and the years flowed by rather agreeably in their new home.

Mr Waudby held several management roles over the years and later shifted into a senior co-ordinating role in human resources, before retiring in 2006.

He took his first academic paper in history for ''interest only'', requiring no assignments or exams, in 2008, and then decided to take one credit paper, requiring the first of many essays.

He initially found academic study ''scary'', but soon settled in and began ''enjoying the challenge''.

The reality that he would actually have to complete 20 papers to gain a degree had later come as ''quite a shock''.

''That was when I got motivated.''


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