As part of our graduation ceremonies at the end of 2022, we caught up with a number of our incredible award-winning students, reflecting some of Arden University’s highest achievers.

Arden student Ayesi, who won the prize for Arden University’s best performing Postgraduate student, flew over all the way from South Africa to her graduation ceremony to celebrate her achievement in person. 

We caught up with her to talk about her time with us as a distance learner, the challenges she’s overcome, and why she feels having a postgraduate qualification is so important for her. 

Hi Ayesi. What were you studying with us?

I was doing an MSc in Strategic IT Management. It basically involves studying IT in terms of managing the business part of it, not IT in depth it itself. Things are focussed mainly on the management side of it – dealing with projects etc. 

Why did you want to study for a postgraduate qualification?

To further my career. I really needed it to go further and to open up new chances for me.

What are you doing for your career? 

So, I'm currently a cloud engineer at Amazon. I've been with them for just over one year. Before that, I was an infrastructure IT tracker in Zimbabwe, my home country.

I started with Arden in 2018, then COVID hit and then I relocated from my country to South Africa to start a new job with Amazon.

What were the three most important things for you when choosing a university? 

Okay, so first of all, I needed a degree that was internationally accredited. Arden came up quite a lot when I was speaking to students. 

Then, also, I liked the flexibility, which meant I can work at the same time to pay for my tuition. That was a plus.

And it's distance-learning. 

What did you enjoy at Arden?

Okay, so my most memorable moments with Arden weren’t when I was doing my assignments, but when I saw the results, and I was able to see like, “Okay, I'm going to do this.”

What else were you balancing your studies with?

So, I'm married. I've got two kids, two sons, who are actually also going to school.

That means I'm a full-time mom. And studying through COVID was also hard, because then you wanted to make sure that the kids were doing their schoolwork too.

With COVID, my kids, were doing school online, and it basically meant parents were teaching the kids. So I had to do that, and I had to do my work where I was working from home. Where I was working it didn’t close, there was actually more business, and it was very busy.

Then I had to change jobs and relocate countries. 

That actually took me away from my studies for about a year because I needed to catch up with my new job. I needed to make sure that I performed. There were some hectic moments, but yeah, it was good as well.

So a degree is a big investment of time, money, and emotional effort, what made it worth all that?

I really liked that it was able to enhance my CV. So right now, when I'm out in the market, I'm able to say I've got a master's degree, and that is very in demand right now. I’m glad I’ve got that on my head. 

How does it feel to be graduating today?

It's amazing. I'm so relieved that I'm done. But now I'm like, “Okay, I want to try more,” and I'm motivated to go even beyond what I’ve done before! 

How does it feel to win a prize too?

I feel emotional. It is an honour that I didn't really expect, especially with the amount of turbulence that I went through during my studying. 

I come from Africa, which financially and economically made things challenging. That's also part of the reason why it took four years instead of probably two years that I wanted, because financially, it was hard. But I'm very happy that I've done it all now.