Student Story

James ("Woody") Woods

James "Woody" Woods believes there is a misconception that I.T. is only for geeks or brainy people. He suggests that if he can do it, anyone can. And that you're never too old to learn!

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As Woody prepares for Otago Polytechnic’s end-of-year Student Showcase, he is also keen to shine a spotlight on the highly dynamic world of Information Technology.

“I believe there is a misconception that I.T. is only for geeks or brainy people. But I know if I can do it, anyone can.

“I am a high school drop-out who has gone back to study. I’m proud of my achievements. You are never too old to learn,” he reflects as he prepares to graduate with a Bachelor of Information Technology in December.

Woody, who grew in South Auckland, gained a diploma in computing in his “younger years”, then went on to work in the engineering industry for more than a decade, primarily in Computer Numerical Control (CNC) engineering.

“I loved the computer side of CNC machines and wanted to further my knowledge and learn more about coding, networking, security, and general duties involving Information Technology, which is a forever changing industry.

“Being a mature student has its own barriers in terms of 'keeping up’ with the younger students but determination and life experience goes a long way.”

Woody says his engineering background definitely helped him with the project-based third year of study.

For semester one, he collaborated on a “farmbot” project, which involved developing a robotic method of sowing and maintaining a garden. That project then morphed into a semester two “battlebot” challenge.

Woody says the strong support from family, staff, and fellow students has also helped him deal with mental illness.

“Back in 2017, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. It came as a surprise and really hit hard. It affected many things. My studies were put on hold and I was at my lowest.

“But with the help of my supportive whanau, friends, and counsellors I got through it and continue to enjoy life, manage my health and be the best I can be for my family and myself.”

As he contemplates a future filled with a healthy mix of raising a family and continuing his musical endeavors, Woody also envisages working with youth – helping them solve problems through Information Technology projects.

“I plan to work and live in Dunedin with my family. I have a few things in the works. I also plan to help our youth through I.T. projects and getting involved wherever I can.  They are our future leaders!”

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