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 I went to Otago and completed a degree in Pharmacology and a MSc in Toxicology. I then worked as a research assistant in Melbourne for about six years. After the birth of our eldest child we decided to move back to Dunedin and I opted to move away from research. I started working part-time as an Assistant Compliance Officer in the Department of Physiology at Otago, helping out with Health & Safety management, especially with the use of chemicals and the rules and regulations that come along with using genetically modified organisms. I’m now working full-time as the Department’s Compliance Officer.

I decided to do this qualification after I met other people from around the University doing similar jobs. Some of them had studied Hazard Assessment and Management papers and found them useful. Also, I’d been working in Australia where the rules around the use of genetically modified organisms were different to New Zealand, so I thought it would give me a good background to local legislation and a refresher on aspects of chemical management not just in New Zealand but also globally.

When I did the course I was working part-time and I completed one paper at a time (four papers in total). Distance learning meant I could study at night, and when my son had an afternoon nap I could get a little bit of reading done — although when I had two children this became a bit harder!

The course co-ordinator was very supportive and the workshops were all well managed and relevant. They also gave you a chance to meet others who were part of the course. For the Environmental Hazards paper we went to the Green Island Landfill — who had any idea how informative a trip to the rubbish dump could be!

At the end of the day keeping up the motivation to study was my major challenge. But the layout of the reading meant I could do half an hour and feel like I had achieved something. Doing the assignments like that doesn’t work so well, but the motivation came from wanting to get it done before the kids got bigger and slept less!