By Chelsea Boyle
Neal Mijares was one of the many beaming faces among the hordes of students graduating from UCOL on Tuesday.
Originally from Kapiti, Mr Mijares moved to Masterton three years ago keen to develop a skill set in building.
On Tuesday he received his Certificate in Carpentry (Level 4) alongside eleven of his peers.
Mr Mijares said he had put himself forward for the course because he had heard good things about the tutor.
With an apprenticeship in the pipeline, it is safe to say the move has paid off.
“I wouldn’t be in the position I am in now if I didn’t study here,” he said.
“Early in the year we made toolboxes for ourselves and later in the year, as our materials turned up, we built a house from the ground up.”
The course had the right balance of theory and practical work, he said.
“It solidifies the learning when you can take something from a textbook and apply it in the workshops.”
He said he enjoyed learning about every aspect that goes into building a house.
“For a house build you can’t focus on one particular thing, you have to look it as a whole.”
“From the get go you have to get it all right.”
His tutor Richard Sexton had nothing but praise for the budding builder.
“It’s great when you get students like Neal.”
Mr Sexton used to own his own building company but decided it was “time for a change” two years ago.
He had had four apprentices before he started teaching at UCOL and knew he enjoyed sharing his knowledge.
Mr Sexton said every year they sold the house that had been built by the students, and that they prioritised charities as prospective buyers.