An introductory arts course has set former rest home cook Kris Lott on a journey of learning.

The Whanganui local and UCOL graduate has been accepted into Massey University's competitive museum studies programme where she will do a post-graduate diploma in museum studies.

Lott says her role as a rest home cook "was a solid job, but wasn't fulfilling".

"A friend of mine, Lauriel Masson-Oakden, was about to start UCOL's certificate in art and design. I'd been looking at the course myself, so I thought 'why not?'," Lott said.

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She enjoyed the course so much that she went on to complete a bachelor's degree in art and design.

"Without the certificate programme I definitely wouldn't have gone into a degree. Coming back to study, it's a bit nerve-racking. Because I did the certificate, they were like family - if you had problems you knew who to talk to, everyone was very close. At UCOL, we weren't just a number."

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Last year, Lott's artwork was selected from nearly 200 submissions for inclusion in the 2019 Whanganui Arts Review and she joined the Sarjeant Gallery as an intern, which is where she discovered her interest in museum and gallery management.

"I'd been there a few months, and was like, I'm really enjoying this. I liked the process of it all – getting exhibitions organised, finding out the history of art pieces, handling and displaying the work."

It led Lott and Masson-Oakden to apply for Massey University's museum studies course and both were accepted this year.

"I'm still involved at Sarjeant as an intern, but I'm also trying to treat my art like a job, booking in four hours of painting every day," Lott said.

"My aim is to have a part-time job to get money in, but create artwork with the rest of my time. I want to run a gallery eventually. I've joined the Fine Arts Whanganui Gallery and I'm keen to find ways to help other students and emerging artists.

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"There's lots of things I still want to learn. The ceramics and printmaking classes were great, and photography's next on my list to have a go at. UCOL's Whanganui campus is great for that, all the facilities are nearby.

"It's about thinking outside of the box - you come to learn painting and art stuff but you can apply that knowledge and creativity in so many other directions. For me, it started in the art history and the research side. I discovered something I never would have thought to try."