Dayna Callender can handle a truck-and-trailer unit like a boss.
The 19-year-old Mount Maunganui woman is the first student in the region to complete the Bay of Plenty Transport Industry cadetship at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology.
"None of my family drive, but I've always loved trucks and looked at them and wanted to drive them. The size, the looks, the different styles, and what they can carry – it all appeals.
"Plus, I like being in control of the vehicle and also seeing new places and new people."
Although she will graduate later this year, she wasted no time in finding work and currently works for Priority Logistics, where she drives Class 5 trucks.
Before enrolling at Toi Ohomai, Callender was a student at Mount Maunganui College and like many school leavers, was unsure about what she wanted to do when she finished school.
She decided to sign up for the student-for-a-day initiative after Toi Ohomai staff visited her school.
"I've always loved trucks and after I did the student-for-a-day where I went to the course and joined in with the class, I realised I loved it, so I just carried on from there," she said.
Callender gained her Class 2 licence, which enabled her to drive trucks that weigh up to 12,000kg.
However, as a member of the cadetship programme, Callender had been connected with her employer and was able to spend the time working and gaining experience.
Earlier this year, she passed her class 5 licence which meant she could drive a truck and trailer unit with a combined weight of up to 25,000kg.
She is looking forward to climbing the ladder towards her big dream of working in the US.
Callender says although the trucking industry is male-dominated, she has felt supported by her colleagues and others.
"There has been a big shift in the industry and they're embracing young workers, and female workers."
Toi Ohomai group manager of automotive, transport and logistics, Dan Taylor, said Callender deserves all the praise that comes her way.
"She is a great example, having seized an opportunity and deciding to run with it," he said.
He said they were "super proud" of Callender's achievements and it was fitting she was the first graduate of the cadetship programme.
"The cadetship programme is a result of Toi Ohomai working with the Freight and Logistics Action Group and our valued industry partners. Now we can offer full- and part-time options for transport students."