From teaching children to transforming curriculum. Ally can’t and won’t stop

Our 30 Years Series, a celebration of three decades of opportunities through Open Universities Australia, returns again this month. Today, you’ll hear from Ally Kettle, who is onto her third degree while working and travelling the world. 

Ally Kettle smiles at camera

For an individual who knew she wanted to teach from the age of four, Ally has gone on to achieve a whole lot more. 

The last time we spoke with Ally, she had recently completed her Bachelor of Education and Master of Education with Curtin University, through Open Universities Australia. At that point in time, the audience for her STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) knowledge was a room of young children.

Today, it’s international executives—as she globe-trots on a mission to better curriculum surrounding the topic of technology on the world stage. All the while completing a Master of Creative Writing with Macquarie University, through Open Universities Australia once again. 

She touched base with us from Aotearoa, New Zealand, where she currently works as Programme Development Manager (AI and Tech) for Queenstown Resort College.

What was your life like 30 years ago, when Open Universities Australia first started in 1993? Did you have any career goals? How were they different to where you are today? 

“1993 was a fantastic year for me—it was in fact the year that I was born! My only personal goals that year would have been learning how to walk, talk and navigate the wide world around me,” Ally says with a laugh.

What are three major achievements or career highlights you've had since graduating? Tell us a little about them.

“My first and biggest achievement in life was becoming a teacher,” Ally shares.

“I worked my absolute tail off to make sure that I was able to graduate earlier than the four-year mark; even working through three Christmas holidays to ensure this could happen. Honestly, that flexibility is what kept me studying through Open Universities Australia after my first [degree]… it meant that I could tailor my study to fit my life instead of my life changing to change my study.

"From the age of four I knew I was meant to be a teacher. It was that kind of soul connection between myself and the blackboard. Any house that we moved into, one of the first things that my mum would do is find a large blank wall and paint a blackboard surface for me. I would spend hours after school shuffling papers on my pretend teacher desk and mark my sibling’s fake homework, showing them how to craft their handwriting correctly!”

“My second [greatest] life achievement [was] when I was head hunted by an American Silicon Valley director to move across to South Korea for a year and open Makerspace and Technology environments across different provinces,” Ally shares. “It was an absolutely life-changing experience and allowed me to experience an entirely different level of executive leadership and technology suites. I had the pleasure of working alongside Samsung and Hyundai headquarters, implementing new technology and writing curriculum that reflected STEAM objectives."

“My third [greatest] life achievement was stepping into my role in Aotearoa (New Zeland) as Programme Development Manager in Artificial Intelligence and Technology Curriculum,” Ally adds, as her last-but-not-least.

“This role has seen me travel across North and South Islands and home to Australia throughout the backend of 2023. We have just been approved by New Zealand Qualifications Authority to deliver a six-week microcredential on artificial intelligence… It is a really exciting and innovating space to be in.”

“My role is sensationally diverse, and ever-changing and has allowed to meet some very influential executives and CEOs who are transforming the current landscape of technology in South Pacific countries."

What would you say to students who are thinking about taking the leap into study, but feel cautious? 

“Do it. Don’t wait!” Ally urges.

“There [are many] old cliché sayings about ‘no time like the present’ and ‘only living once’. But honestly, don’t wait to make a change—dive in and create the changes and the life that you want for you—because no one else can make those changes."

If you could go back to the time before you completed your degree through OUA and tell yourself about the life you’ve achieved now, what would you say? What advice would you give?

Ally chose to respond to this question with a letter to her past self:

Dear 2015 Ally,

The life ahead of you is not one that even your imagination can script. You are going to travel far and wide using the knowledge that you will learn through your degrees; and just when you think you are done with learning—you will study writing to be able to share your stories.

Yes, there are days that will seem long, nights the seem even longer and months that you really have to work hard; but the adventures that these degrees will take you on are absolutely worth every second.

You will spend countless hours sipping coffee, tapping away at your keyboard, learning from your peers and scrolling through your online learning portal, but preserver when it gets tough. Show strength and be resilient. Because I promise you, the countries and spaces that you are headed stretch far beyond even your wildest dreams.

Love Future Ally

What is one benefit of study that you weren’t expecting? 

“I wasn’t diagnosed with ADHD until late last year at the age of 29. It wasn’t until after that formal diagnosis that I fully understood why Open Universities Australia worked so significantly well for me—[it was] the flexibility and timing component.

I wasn't expecting to go on to study a masters so soon after [the] completion of my first degree. I finished my first [in] October 2016 and started my masters [in] November 2016. This allowed me to upskill in STEAM and was the primary reason I was headhunted by Seoul in South Korea in 2022.

I am currently a founding board member for Youth for STEM in America and we develop funding and scholarships for students looking to learn and work in the STEM/STEAM spaces of education and career paths.”

What are your goals for the future?

“The average human being lives 79 years and 8 months old… You get thirty thousand days to live. Thirty thousand sunrises, thirty thousand sunsets, thirty thousand opportunities to direct and change your life in a way that sets your soul on fire,” Ally says.

"My goal? Spend the next 18,870 days living a life that is filled with passion, excitement and travel; spurred on by my desire to always be a lifelong learner who leaves an honest and inspiring legacy for those around her."

Ally’s passion for living life to the fullest is remarkable—as is her dedication to learning and impacting the lives of learners around her. 

With every year comes a new Ally-sized adventure, and we at Open Universities Australia can’t wait to see what comes next. 


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