“It has been a lifelong dream to have a higher education degree,” says Ferny Suhandi, who is part-way through achieving her BSc (Hons) Social Psychology degree with The Open University.
After believing higher education would never be accessible, Ferny, who now lives and studies in Cambodia, is determined to show the world what she can achieve.
“Learning with the OU has given me more confidence in my knowledge and in my life,” she said. “It has been a life-changing experience. I feel lucky and proud to become a member of the OU community.
“The OU learning process has been enjoyable, things that I read and learn excite me. It is an enlightening journey.”
A hunger to learn
“Education was not considered important for females in the culture I was raised in,” says Ferny. “My life was set for me, and I was to be someone else’s daughter-in-law and take care of their family at home.”
After her marriage ended, Ferny began working in international development while caring for her son. She went on to remarry, move from Indonesia to Cambodia, and decided it was time to achieve her university dream.
Inspired by her interest in human behaviour, Ferny enrolled to study Social Psychology with The Open University in 2019.
“The Open University allows me to have the flexibility of having higher education without compromising on the quality,” she said.
Progressing an international career
Ferny studies flexibly from her home in Pnom Penh and aims to use her qualification to boost her career prospects.
“I have confidence that a degree from the OU will open more doors for me. I plan to go back to working for the international development agencies, in a position that allows me to create change. Then I plan to get my master’s degree soon after I apply my current knowledge in practice.
“There’s only a limited position I can go to in my career without the qualification. Finishing the study will open more work opportunities with higher benefits, more life-changing moments, and consequently a better future for me and my family,” she said.
“Most importantly, I get to show everyone back home what determination and education can do. Hopefully, I will show others that are in the same position as I was back then, that there’s a better life that can be achieved with our resilience and hard work.”
A supportive community of international students
In addition to her family’s support, Ferny has found plenty of encouragement and advice from the OU’s global community of learners and tutors. She said:
“There’s a lot of support that helped me along the way. Students’ chat groups, multiple forums, social media, and constant student support from the OU and tutors.
“The study material itself is very guided, all the resources I need are there, I feel very supported. The materials were set up to make it easy for me to understand, despite coming from a different educational culture. The books and online materials were made to support each other.”
‘You can do it too’
For years, Ferny dreamed of being where she is now: a proud student working towards her future goals. With every assignment, she says she gets closer to her aspirations.
“I am proud that I took that leap and to be where I am in my study with the OU. I am proud of how I have changed in the years from where I was and look forward to what’s more to come,” she said.
For any students currently chasing their own dreams, especially those who are overcoming barriers to study, Ferny had the following words of encouragement:
“You can do it, set one little goal to get you through every step of the way, then don’t forget to celebrate the little success you have done. Tap yourself on the back and set another goal. Before you know it, you will be where you want to be.
“If you need help, the student support system is there to assist with solutions, contact your tutor, talk with friends. You are not alone.”