Alan Solomon is proof that you can change careers and make a success of it.
The 36-year-old was this week recognised with the Rotorua Daily Post top student award after graduating from the Waiariki Institute of Technology Diploma in Bicultural Journalism. He received a $500 cheque.
Mr Solomon said it was "divine inspiration" that led to him changing from a career in sales and marketing. He wanted to get into television but realised he needed some credibility. "I never thought I would have the opportunity. I knew I needed credibility which in my mind equated to a qualification and it snowballed from there."
Mr Solomon is now working at TV Rotorua and has ambitions to report on and make documentaries surrounding child injustices, such as trafficking, child soldiers and poverty. "If people don't know about it, we can't do anything about it," he said. "I want to shine a light on those issues."
He said he was pleased to be named top student, especially as he had found making a career change "quite scary".
"I was 35 and going back to school. It was a huge decision and I was the oldest in class but I've definitely found my calling. If you want to make a career change, just do it. The hardest thing is making the decision. People worry about what if they can't, but what if they can?"
Rotorua Daily Post editor Kim Gillespie said the news industry had a duty to help foster emerging talent in the journalism field. "We're excited to see reporters like Alan coming through and we'd like to think our involvement with this award inspires budding reporters to strive for their best."