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Women in Trades scholarship helping fund ‘lifelong dream’ for students

By UCOL on Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Sarah-lee Gurnick

Sixteen UCOL students received a total of $11,500 through the institute’s first Women in Trades scholarship. 

Launched this year with support from two confidential local donors and Mitre 10, the students will be using the funding to cover the cost of tools, travel expenses, technology upgrades, professional development opportunities and more.

The goal was straightforward. “We want to encourage women into the trades sector, help them overcome barriers and give them a great kick-start to their career so they succeed,” says Danny Reilly, Executive Dean Engineering & Applied Technologies. 

New Zealand Diploma in Construction student, Nitisha Saras was among the first recipients. She always knew construction was her calling but never got the chance to pursue it until now.

“Choosing this field wasn’t an easy choice, given I was leaving 12 years of academic teaching experience behind – but I like challenges. I’ve always wanted to become a site manager and last year, I decided it was time to pursue my lifelong dream,” says Saras. 


UCOL Diploma in Construction student Nitisha Saras 

Based in Whanganui, the mum-of-one travels to Palmerston North every week to attend lectures. Her scholarship fund helped cover the cost of a drivers licence test, site boots, and a hard drive for storing her study notes. 

“Travelling and juggling priorities is tiring but I’m enjoying learning new things. It’s the best decision I’ve made and all thanks to UCOL – they recognised my need, motivated me, and are helping me achieve my academic goal. For all this, I’m so grateful,” she adds.

Fellow grant recipient Sarah-lee Gurnick is currently pursuing the New Zealand Certificate in Electrical Engineering Theory. She plans to start her own business.

“My partner is a builder and I’ve always helped him with his work projects and thoroughly enjoyed it,” says Gurnick.
 
After working five years in retail, Gurnick realised it wasn’t something she wanted to do for the rest of her life. 

“This and my interest in trades was enough for me to make the call. It’s been a good couple of months since I enrolled with UCOL. If it wasn’t for them, it would have been challenging for me to sort out my tools and travel expenses. ”

“The best part about my programme is that I get to meet like-minded people, discuss possible theories and collaborate on new ideas. One of my classmates is working on building his own generator – I mean, how cool is that?” says Gurnick, who is planning to visit the Te Apiti Wind Farm soon to learn more about how windmills actually work. 

UCOL has opened the next round of Women in Trades scholarship this week. “We have up to another $12,000 to give out, and we really want to encourage current and potential learners to get in touch with us. If you’ve been thinking about learning a trade, you can enrol with UCOL and then apply for this funding. Between this and the free Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund, which covers the fees for many of our programmes, there’s never been a better time to get into the trade industry,” says Reilly.  

UCOL students who are interested in applying for this scholarship, can find out more information and download and application form here. Applications close August 6.


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