Shirley Kerr

Shirley Kerr

"Studying for the degree was challenging, scary, fantastic and so self-fulfilling"

Shirley Kerr started at St John as a volunteer paramedic, and has worked her way up to a national position in charge of compliance and quality in first aid training. Although Shirley has had more than 30 years of experience with the organisation, she used to feel inferior and in awe of anyone who had a higher education. 

“The role that I’m in now is the national Private Training Establishment and NZQA manager, so I’m dealing with people who have degrees and qualifications all the time. Before going to Otago Polytechnic, I’d sit around the table and everybody would introduce themselves and they’d have a string of letters after their name and I’d be just Shirley Kerr, paramedic, with a family.”

Shirley always froze in exams at school and thought she didn’t have the skills and the knowledge to study for a degree but a work colleague and her children encouraged her to look at Capable NZ which recognizes skills and learning from work and life experience. 

“It took a lot of convincing, it was only that they pointed out that I’d written the quality manual for St John and I was doing a lot of things in my role that graduates do.” 

Shirley doubted her abilities right to the very end.

“I truly didn’t believe it until they said I’d finished and would graduate with a Bachelor of Applied Management. This recognition of prior learning is just phenomenal and it’s so relevant and so valid. I’d recommend Capable NZ to anyone.”