Stayer com­pletes course

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

Aotea man Jim Sut­ton does not shy away from long-haul com­mit­ments, hav­ing just gained a de­gree that he started in 1990.

By day the 60-year-old is Porirua City Coun­cil’s en­vi­ron­men­tal stan­dards man­ager, over­see­ing the city’s lit­ter, park­ing, pol­lu­tion, ru­ral fire, wastew­a­ter and dog con­trol poli­cies.

But for 23 years Mr Sut­ton has been beaver­ing away ex­tra­mu­rally at a Massey bach­e­lor of science de­gree, ma­jor­ing in psy­chol­ogy. A death in the fam­ily pre­vented him grad­u­at­ing in May, so he will don the cap and gown in Novem­ber.

‘‘I was wor­ried I would have to walk across the stage with a walker,’’ Mr Sut­ton joked about his ex­tended study.

‘‘I’m re­ally pleased and proud that I’ve done my de­gree. It’s been a long jour­ney but ed­u­ca­tion has been a ma­jor part of my life and I hope to in­stil that in my fam­ily.’’

Over the years Mr Sut­ton has been study­ing psy­chol­ogy, the dis­ci­pline has swung from a fo­cus on con­trol­ling hu­man and an­i­mal be­hav­iour, to a cog­ni­tive ap­proach, find­ing out what makes peo­ple tick. Psy­chol­ogy had helped ‘‘peo­ple-per­son’’ Mr Sut­ton to un­der­stand his em­ploy­ees and col­leagues bet­ter, he said.

In­spir­ing oth­ers to set goals is cen­tral to Mr Sut­ton’s phi­los- ophy. He reg­u­larly chal­lenges him­self in three ar­eas of his life: men­tally, phys­i­cally and with fam­ily goals – striv­ing to be a good hus­band to wife Raewyn and fa­ther to his three adult chil­dren.

‘‘It helps me stay sane if I’ve got a goal to work to­wards. I’ve got a di­rec­tion,’’ he said.

‘‘If I can do it, any­one can do it, be­cause I’m not spe­cial. It’s just set­ting the mind to do some­thing. On the jour­ney you meet so many peo­ple who help you and in­spire you.’’

Mr Sut­ton’s fit­ness achieve­ments are, if any­thing, more im­pres­sive than his aca­demics. A for­mer asth­matic with a dodgy knee from a mo­tor­bike ac­ci­dent, Mr Sut­ton took up cycling aged 50. Since then he has com­pleted a 27-hour, 640km race around Lake Taupo, cir­cling the lake four times. He has cy­cled up France’s most chal­leng­ing moun­tains and alps.

‘‘ Cycling has re­ally opened up the world to me,’’ he said. His cur­rent goal is com­plet­ing the gru­elling Iron­man triathlon in March.

Ed­u­ca­tion­ally Mr Sut­ton’s next goal is to be­come a Lit­er­acy Aotearoa tu­tor, teach­ing ba­sic skills to adults who strug­gle to read and write, aim­ing to pass his pas­sion for ed­u­ca­tion to those who have strug­gled aca­dem­i­cally.

‘‘There’s a lot of peo­ple in the com­mu­nity who haven’t had the ad­van­tages that I have had,’’ he said.

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