Hanna-Maari Latvala: Skills for the future via the intermediate studies in psychology

Student story


Hanna-Maari Latvala is one of Finland’s all-time best sprinters. Achieving her goals and success has required an enormous amount of work. Alongside her athletics career, Hanna-Maari has diligently completed studies at the University of Jyväskylä and graduated with a master’s degree in sport sciences in 2013. Hanna-Maari moved to Jyväskylä in 2006, originally to study sports planning and administration. During her exchange period in Sweden, she became interested in sport psychology and made it to her major subject. After graduation she needed some breathing space, but decided in summer 2015 to continue her studies at the Open University of the University of Jyväskylä, where she registered for the intermediate studies in psychology.

"Completing the intermediate studies in psychology is part of a longer-term plan for me: I want to develop my competences already during my sport career for the time that comes after. The modes of study at the Open University make it possible to study irrespective of time and place, so that I can further my studies when it suits me best."

At the Open University, students can actually complete the intermediate studies in psychology entirely online through distance learning. Various alternative modes of study are offered, from online courses to distance exams and independently completed learning assignments. Students can also complete some of the course exams on the general exam days of the Open University. For Hanna-Maari, the opportunity for distance learning will be further highlighted starting from spring 2016: in March she took the next huge step in her career by moving to Florida to train with the top coach Lance Brauman. This means that she is moving to Florida – even though she still sees Jyväskylä as her home. Her coach’s team also trains in Amsterdam, so her future will include plenty of travelling as well. In February Hanna-Maari planned her studies together with the university teachers of psychology in order to make sure that her studies would be included in this big life change.

"The meeting gave me good ideas about the order in which I should complete my studies. Moreover, itfacilitated the choice of different modes of study, so that I can actively further my studies even in my busy daily life. I was also assured that when I encounter challenges or problem situations I need not hesitate to contact the teachers, who will do their best to support me in finding suitable solutions to the challenges."

Via the intermediate studies in psychology at the Open University, Hanna-Maari wants to deepen her knowledge in psychology and enhance her competences for future career growth. With her choices she also wants to communicate, in both sport and studies, that dreams can be realised only through goal-oriented work and, when required, bold decisions. On the other hand, courage is needed especially for taking the first step.

"Taking big decisions is sometimes the only way to real progress, in both sport and life in general. Big decisions usually also imply bigger risks, but risks are the only way to reach the next level."