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Former all Black Jerome Kaino graduates from Otago Polytechnic

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Thousands of miles away from the Auckland stage on which several of his mates walked, former All Black Jerome Kaino quietly - yet proudly -- celebrated graduating from Otago Polytechnic.

Based in Toulouse, France, the professional rugby player has graduated (in absentia) with a Bachelor of Applied Management.

Although he wasn’t able to attend Otago Polytechnic’s Auckland International Campus graduation ceremony earlier this month, Kaino was happy that several of his former Blues Super Rugby franchise team-mates - including Sonny Bill Williams - also graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Management.

"I’ve always wanted to study and use my spare time to do something outside of rugby and my usual experience," Kaino explains via phone from his home in Toulouse.

"Otago Polytechnic’s Capable New Zealand school has given me, and others, an awesome opportunity.

"Professional rugby has been a huge part of my life since the age of 18, but studying as always something I wanted to do. It was a question of how to best go about it."

Kaino says he focused on leadership and sports management for his degree.

"The Capable NZ process really made me dig deep and re-evaluate the skills and knowledge I had gained through professional sport - and by that, I mean off-the-field skills.

"I have learnt so much, including how those skills are transferable and applicable to the ‘real world’. Before I embarked on my degree, I didn’t realise the depth of what I had already learned.

With the help of Glenys Ker and others within the Capable NZ team, I was able to formally identify and capture that knowledge in a more theoretical, academic framework."

Respected for his workload and uncompromising physical play on the world rugby stage, Kaino admits studying was tough at times.

"I did feel quite vulnerable, but the experience was also awesome.

"A lot of the tasks require you to be quite honest in your self-reflections-what you’re good at, what you’re not good at. And being Polynesian, we don’t really like talking about ourselves," says Kaino, who moved from American Samoa to Auckland as a child.

He might have won two back-to-back World Cups (2011, 2015) with the All Blacks, but the man who has achieved so much in professional rugby, regards his latest achievement as "up there."

"I wasn’t that amazing at school. Sure, I was sound student, but not what you’d call an A-plus student. So succeeding academically has been a really euphoric experience. I’m very proud.

"Mum and dad have always urged me to do some form of study, to use my spare time wisely. I’m sure they are quite proud, too.

"It’s a special feeling being able to share this achievement with them and my family."

Glenys Ker worked closely with the Blues group, who began their studies in June 2018 and utilised Otago Polytechnic’s Queen St campus on occasion to complete their degrees.

"Other players have now signed up and are working towards gaining a qualification, which is exciting for all sporting codes."

Other recent Capable New Zealand graduates include Olympic athletics coach Raylene Bates, Black Caps cricketer Grant Elliott, Tongan rugby international Hale T-Pole, Samoan rugby international Seilala Mapusua, Silver Ferns netballers Jodi Brown and Katrina Grant, windsurfing legend Barbara Kendall, New Zealand cricketers Katie Glynn, Luke Ronchi and Hamish Rutherford, and All White Andrew Durante.

Capable NZ recognises that many professionals have an immense amount of workplace knowledge and skill, but may not have the qualifications to match.

Its world-leading assessment methods value the prior learning of individuals who want to become qualified. It measures a person’s existing capability, gained through years of work and life experience, against an actual qualification and gives academic credit for what they already know.

Capable NZ utilises an Independent Learning Pathway approach, an intensely learner-centred and highly reflective process through which the learner undertakes a set of learning activities designed to help them make explicit their learning from experience. Learners also identify any gaps they may have in knowledge or skill areas, for which they take responsibility to address.

In the ILP approach, the learner compiles a portfolio that identifies relevant experience and the learnings from that experience and prepares case studies of their practice.

The learner’s portfolio and case studies are central to the assessment process, which is undertaken by two assessors -- one an academic and the other a practitioner in the field. The assessment process includes a professional conversation in which the learner articulates their knowledge and capabilities relevant to their degree.

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