Former St George Illawarra Dragons National Youth Competition team player Ryan O’Connor is poised to become the next graduate of the Graduates of League program from the University of Wollongong.

O’Connor, who has been involved in the GOL program since its inception in 2012, will complete his

Bachelor of Commerce degree in finance at UOW in June.

O’Connor is an exceptional participant in the program having kept a distinction average and receiving entry into the International Golden Key Society, winning a scholarship to study in the US.

O’Connor has given back to the GOL program and to rugby league off the field, being presently employed as a GOL peer tutor assisting other young Dragons in their studies and is now working in the NRL Finance Department as assistant accountant.

Since being involved as both a student and tutor I’ve been able to make friends with people who are interested and will be working in similar areas to mine,” said O’Connor.

“These connections will be beneficial in the future as we will be able to rely on each other for support and networking once in business.

“The program allows everyone to bounce ideas off each other and gives you confidence that you are doing things correctly.

“This confidence is invaluable when tackling assignments and exams.

By having a tutor it has allowed me to better develop my understanding of finance and has been a contributing factor to my academic results, which include a distinction average.

During my time in the GOL program I’ve experienced great success.

“I’ve been able to maintain a distinction average, received a Dean’s Merit Award (for students in the top 5 per cent of the faculty), became a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society and gained a place in the International Scholar Program.

“These successes were driven by the marks I was able to achieve which can be attributed to the Graduates of League program.

“As a peer tutor I’ve also experienced success, I have been able to guide several other Dragons players through both finance and accounting subjects.

“Seeing the boys go well in subjects has given me as much joy as my own success.

“As their tutor I’ve felt some responsibility for their results so it has been great to see them going so well.

At first it felt a little strange because I was tutoring some of my good friends who I had played with, however I think they actually appreciate it more as they know that I have been in the same situation (trying to juggle uni and footy) as they are in.

“I’ve found that I get just as nervous when they have exams as when I have an exam.

“I feel responsible for their results.

“It has also been helpful for my own study as I am refreshing and reviewing work that I’ve already done.

“I’ve recently started working at the NRL as an assistant accountant in the finance team which I have been enjoying.

“I’m very interested in investing and the share market so I’d also like to explore these areas in the future.

“I do have plans to do post-graduate study as well as I believe it will be important to continually improve myself.”