Fri 18 May 2018

How Rachel beat the odds

Rachel Knock defied the odds to get to her WITT graduation ceremony this week.

Having completed her first year of hairdressing study at WITT in 2016, she was on course to complete year two when she was involved in a serious car crash on Tate Rd, Brixton.

“The car I was driving rolled and I fractured my C7 vertebrae in two places,” she recalled.

In short, the April 2017 crash left Rachel with a broken neck and little chance of completing her course.

“I had no head control for three days and was in a neck brace, then missed 14 weeks of my study,” she recalled.

Rachel had returned to New Zealand from her native Manchester in 2015 – she had lived here from the age of six to 12. When she went home, she had a Kiwi accent – when she returned it was with New Zealand residency and a distinctly Mancunian (think Coronation Street) voice.

She initially returned to WITT after her car crash by attending part-days, but doubt set in and she asked tutors if they felt it was worth her continuing.

Not only did they say yes, but also they made sure Rachel had every chance to make up the lost time.

“Kris [Kristine Fraser] was so supportive – she went above and beyond the call of duty. She couldn’t have done more to help. She would stay late so we could get what we needed done,” Rachel recalled.

Aside from going through a lot of physical pain she also needed emotional support, and found that provided by Kristine too.

She eventually passed her course, after getting a one-week time extension.

Kristine Fraser described Rachel’s achievement in earning her NZ Certificate in Hairdressing Year 2 as a “story of triumph”.

“Rachel’s natural ability with hair, her sunny personality and positive attitude to everything is what got her through.”

Today Rachel is serving an apprenticeship at The Cutting Edge on New Plymouth’s Devon St, and even there she says WITT has helped.

“I worried that it might be difficult building up a list of clients when I had no family here, but WITT tutors were able to help me there too.”

Rachel will be one of the hundreds of students to graduate today (May 18)

After the celebrations, she will concentrate on her main target – adding to that list of clients.

WITT stages two ceremonies for graduating students at the TSB Showplace, a certificate ceremony at 1pm and a second ceremony for diploma and degree students at 5.30.

 From 1pm WITT will begin live-streaming at  (This is no longer available)

Almost 1000 students will graduate tomorrow and as many as 250 will march with staff in the central city parade which begins at 4.30pm.