Nitisha Saras has always known that working in construction was her true calling and a new scholarship is enabling her to pursue her dream.
Launched this year, the Women in Trades scholarship is intended to boost the number of women working in the trades sector.
UCOL's executive dean of engineering and applied technologies, Danny Reilly, said 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," he said.
With support from two confidential local donors and Mitre 10, students will be using the scholarship to cover the cost of tools, travel expenses, technology upgrades and professional development opportunities.
Saras, as a Whanganui-based mum-of-one, travels to the Palmerston North UCOL campus every week to attend lectures in the New Zealand diploma in construction.
"Choosing this field wasn't an easy choice, given I was leaving 12 years of academic teaching experience behind – but I like challenges," Saras said.
"I've always wanted to become a site manager and last year, I decided it was time to pursue my lifelong dream."
Her scholarship fund has helped to cover the cost of a driver 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," she said.
UCOL has opened the next round of Women in Trades scholarships 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," Reilly said.
"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."
• UCOL students who are interested in applying for the Women in Trades scholarship, can find out more information and download an application form at ucol.ac.nz Applications close August 6.