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Rebecca Pooley

Rebecca Pooley

Determined Rebecca was the Professional Certificate in Management 2019 Student of the Year in our Student and Alumni Awards 2020. Her husband was undergoing chemotherapy for terminal cancer when she signed-up in 2018 as a stepping stone to the MBA programme. He unfortunately passed away in August 2019, just eight days before the mum-of-two’s final assignment was due and three weeks before the exam.

“I started my Open University journey in 2018 when I signed up for the Professional Certificate in Management because I wanted to get an MBA as part of my personal and career development plans. I didn’t have a degree and the Certificate was offered as an alternative entry method on to the MBA and sounded great as a standalone qualification too.

“Distance learning seemed like the best fit for me at the time, with two young sons aged five and seven, a full-time job and a sick husband who was already undergoing chemotherapy; it was really the only option.

“I loved the course and worked hard to get good marks. My first tutor gave great constructive feedback, engaged on the forums and led really enjoyable and interactive tutorials that encouraged me to work hard on the materials.

“Some of the course was solidifying what I already knew and had learned through work experience. It provided the theory behind some of the things I do, and my organisation does, so it felt like the various jigsaw pieces were being put together and made more sense.

“I work in a large organisation within a global IT Project Management Office (PMO) and Analytics team. I received a promotion in 2020 which is partly to do with my OU studies and I hope it will continue to lead to bigger and better things. I think they can see the value of this more complete jigsaw of knowledge I now possess and the confidence boost it has given me that I do actually know what I am doing and talking about.

“The course gave me something to focus on when I needed a break from ‘real life’, mostly when my family were sleeping. As the course progressed, so did my husband’s cancer. He died on 26 August 2019 … eight days before my EMA (final assignment) was due and three weeks before my exam. I was a month behind at that point and many people told me to defer my studies.

“But I couldn’t let cancer ruin my plans as well. I was determined; submitted my assignment and sat my exam (nervous and under-prepared) before waiting for the results which took forever. When they arrived, I cried – my assignment mark was a whopping 96%! – and I also passed the exam.

“When the certificate arrived, it was mission accomplished and I could start the OU MBA programme in October 2019 [which Rebecca has now proudly completed]. It has been challenging to fit in time to study during the pandemic with a full-time job so I won’t be winning any awards this time but I’ve still given it everything I’ve got and have enjoyed the journey.”

“I’m really proud of winning Student of the Year for my graduating class. I know my husband would be really proud of me just for finishing the course, let alone winning an award. It has also given me the opportunity to show my sons things like making time to study and learn, even as an adult, is important. Winning this award was an amazing chance to show them that hard work pays off.

“To explain the photo, I have a bit of an addiction with creating my own nail art and have over 200 different gel colours! But before you think I am particularly 'girly', I love attending heavy rock concerts too, at least I did until the last year when social events disappeared for all of us.”