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IWD 2017 – Christine, Lews Castle College UHI

International Women’s Day 2017

8 Mar 2017

Christine Hazelton, HNC Fabrication, Welding & Inspection, Lews Castle College UHI.

After losing my dad I never really enjoyed school, I just wasn’t interested. In high school it got worse due to bullying and my mum getting ill, she was in and out of hospital a lot and was diagnosed with Functional Neurological Disorder (FND).

The only thing I was really interested in at school was work experience. I decided I wanted to be a mechanic as I loved working with my hands, so I put my name down to go to a local garage. I eventually decided to do Engineering and Construction. I’m quite small and I have asthma and a few people told me I wouldn’t be able to do it, some even asked why I wasn’t doing something more “girly”. Their comments didn’t bother me as my mum and my family just said to ignore them and do what I wanted to. I loved doing the engineering Skills for Work course, and when it came to S4 I decided I wanted to apply for the full time NC Fabrication and Welding course because that was my favourite subject area. I was surprised but delighted to get accepted.

I absolutely loved college, the class spent half the time on classroom based academic subjects including core skills, and the other half was workshop based practical units. It was hard work, but I enjoyed all the units and welding was my favourite. The help and support I received from the lecturing staff made it so much easier, they were great. I had never applied myself this hard at something before. I decided that I wanted to do this all the way to HNC level and the lecturers were very supportive of my goal. I managed to achieve perfect attendance and shared the student of the year award with another girl.

When I started the HNC Fabrication, Welding & Inspection course I didn’t realise how hard it was going to be. The first few months, things were getting to me, especially with my mum’s health, and I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it. I failed two assessments and was really down about it, but my lecturers pushed me as they knew I could do it. I got my head back down and passed my two resits and achieved a grade B in the HNC graded unit.

When I left college I worked in a local fish factory. I was applying for jobs in engineering, but what I really wanted was an apprenticeship. A position was advertised at Strathclyde University which I applied for, although I didn't think I would stand a chance. To my surprise I was offered the job, and now I'm an apprentice technician. Since having this amazing opportunity I’m training at work for my SVQ in mechanical engineering and I have started going to college again to do another HNC in mechanical engineering. Since being here I have helped out with CAD classes and have expanded my welding skills by working on student and company projects. I have also learned new skills such as conventional and CNC Milling and turning and how to work a water jet cutter. I’m hoping to do an assessors training course so that I can sign off SVQ trainee portfolios, and in the near future I will be helping out staff teaching welding classes. When I’m fully qualified I’ll be able to help teach classes on machining.

In years to come I would love to go back home, and even work at Lews Castle College as that is where it all started for me.