Truckie graduate breaks the mould
Michelle Bennett is as comfortable driving a truck as she is slipping into a frock for her graduation ceremony.
Bennett, of New Plymouth, was awarded her Certificate in Road Transport at Witt's graduation ceremony yesterday, and said she was proud of her achievement.
The 44-year-old is a woman working in the male-dominated trucking industry and she loves it.
Out of the nine students enrolled in her road transport course just three were women, and Bennett initially thought she would be the black sheep of the family.
"At the back of your mind, you're thinking 'I'm going to a male-dominated industry, how are they going to treat me?', but they embrace it."
The men at both her course and workplace, TIL Freight, were more than happy to share their skills with Bennett.
"Now I'm employed in the industry, I don't feel left out at all," she said.
Bennett, originally from Tauranga, noticed there was a demand for truck drivers in the Taranaki region when she was job hunting.
"I went down to Witt and looked to see what I could do. And what do you know, they had a transport course for truck driving, so it just happened."
Bennett was slightly nervous when she thought about the amount of reading and assignments the course required.
"At first, I thought 'oh no, the school work', but it's a lot to do with safety," she said.
But the hard work paid off and Bennett was offered a job with TIL Freight as soon as she completed the 12-week programme in November.
Choosing a career in truck driving was an easy choice for Bennett, who used to work on her Mum's avocado orchard and mowed lawns part-time with the New Plymouth District Council.
"I like outdoor work and wanted something outdoorsy," she said.
Bennett liked the camaraderie between truckies, exchanging a wave or two with fellow colleagues when they pass each other on the road.
She believes the reason there were so few women enrolled in the programme was because many were not aware of it.
Story c/o Michelle Ong, Taranki Daily News