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Kath Smith

Hairdressing Graduate

Photograph of Kath Smith

Being offered a job as an assistant in a friend’s hair salon was all the encouragement Kath Smith needed to take a whole new career path.

“I jumped at the chance,” she says. “I had for as long as I could remember wanted to have a career in hairdressing.”

Whanganui-born Kath had worked in various retail positions in pharmacy and jewellery stores since leaving school. She ran her own business, The Tot Shoppe, which sold children’s clothing, nursery furniture and toys, for 13 years.  

After a significant personal experience Kath sold her business and shortly after got the job offer that presented her with new opportunities in a new profession. 

At 59 years old, Kath says, “After four years of just helping out and much encouragement from friends and family who ignored my protests that I was too old to go back to study, I decided to do it.” 

Kath admits UCOL was her first choice for her study. “I had heard great things about the Hairdressing programme and the tutors.” Kath says she loved the fact that age was not going to be a barrier to her achieving her goals and her dream of becoming a qualified hair stylist. 

“The whole atmosphere and support system at UCOL was amazing, catering for all walks of life and ages. I was absolutely certain I was making the correct choice to train through UCOL. And I was.” 

After qualifying from UCOL in 2015 Kath got an apprenticeship for 2016 and completed her National Certificate in Hairdressing later that year. 

Recently Kath opened her own salon in Whanganui. 

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time at UCOL, although I was quite nervous to be in a ‘college’ situation with much younger students at first. It was made much easier by the supportive staff and students who treated me, as an adult student, no differently.” 

Kath says, “I achieved more than I could have hoped for with a lot of hard work and encouragement from my amazing tutors. It was a fantastic experience that I would recommend to anyone wanting to train for a career at any age.” 


Kath completed UCOL's Certificate in Hairdressing (Salon Support) and Certificate in Hairdressing (Practice).

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