Stayer completes course
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.