Kerry Rushton has extra cause to celebrate graduation today.
The 51-year-old Otago Polytechnic student will graduate with a Bachelor of Social Services and receive the Otago Daily Times Award for personal achievement in her studies.
Kerry will mark the occasion at the Dunedin Town Hall with her mum, Beverley, who has a terminal illness.
"I gave up work halfway through this year because Mum got a lot sicker and so I was trying to spend as much time with her as possible.
"She has a heart and lung condition as well as type 1 diabetes. She went into full-time care last week because she needs 24-hour nursing now."
Kerry was a full-time chef in Dunedin until four years ago, when she decided it was time to make a change.
She completed a Certificate in Human Services, a stepping-stone to her studying for a Bachelor of Social Services, specialising in career counselling.
She now plans to return to Otago Polytechnic and complete a Graduate Diploma in Social Services (Disability) then find work as a careers counsellor for people with disabilities or mental health issues.
"A lot of people tend to forget that people with disabilities need jobs because otherwise they’re going to end up in a lot of poverty,” says Kerry, who was New Zealand First’s Dunedin South candidate in the recent election.
Read more about our Social Services programmes.
Expiry: 16 Feb 2018