New Directions Award

Nikki-Ann Wyatt

2021 National Winner

Nikki-Ann worked as a pastry chef in a high-end restaurant before suffering life-changing injuries in a motorbike accident. After returning to education, Nikki-Ann has retrained and is pursuing a career in engineering. From Nikki-Ann’s very first day back in education, her life has taken a completely new direction and she is currently working towards a degree and a career as a civil engineer.

When I finally came to terms with the fact that I would never be able to work as a pastry chef in a top restaurant again after my accident, I was quite down. I had lost a career I’d worked incredibly hard in for 16 years.

I was quite good at maths and science in school, I grew up in Ireland and I needed a GCSE in science if I was to go onto study at university. With the help of my auntie, who is an access course tutor, I came across engineering, which seemed like the perfect area of work for me and I applied to do my science GCSE at Stockport College. After progressing onto the Access to Engineering course at Trafford College, I am now studying for a bachelor’s in civil engineering at the University of Salford which I hope to convert into a Masters.

I’m really excited about the potential of working in a job that can really bring about social change using the skills I gained at The Trafford College Group. I loved the high-end nature of my previous hospitality role and the competitive edge of being busy working in these kinds of kitchens, but returning to education gave me a goal and a focus for all the energy I had.

Mark Readman, Access Tutor at Trafford College, said: ‘Despite experiencing such clear physical and mental challenges in her recovery following her motorbike accident, Nikki-Ann literally got straight back on her bike on her return to education, which is no mean feat when you have been out of education for so long. Nikki-Ann’s passion for all the varied aspects of Engineering, from mechanical through to electrical, was really infectious and her assignments were a delight.’