Thu 24 Oct 2019

Top student finds her pathway

When Inglewood High School student Jenissa Whitmore came to WITT through the Trades Academy programme, she was, by her own account, ‘a bit lost’. In September, following months of dedicated work in the WITT kitchen, Jenissa not only graduated Level 2 Cookery but went on to earn the Top Student award in her class.

Jenissa came to WITT two days a week throughout this year, building skills in the kitchen all while earning NCEA credits. She’s already got her next steps planned out, saying she’ll be coming back to WITT in 2020 to complete Cookery Level 3 through the 3+2 programme.

“I want to go all the way through to Level 6,” she said, “but if a job in industry came up then I would probably take that opportunity.”

Jenissa said that she fell into the Cookery programme because she didn’t know what she wanted to do.

“I had no big interest in cooking before. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, my careers advisor at school talked to me about Cookery at WITT… and about a week in I realised I’d found my calling.

“The thing about cooking is that you put everything into it – you can put all of your love and passion into your food. I have really bad dyslexia so I found that doing hands-on stuff in the kitchen really helped me to get into a career I’m interested in.”

Jenissa said the support she got from her tutors was ‘brilliant’, motivating her to aim high in her career and focus on a Head Chef job down the track.

“The highlight of the year was learning new things with all the chefs,” she said. “It was nice having them coming up to me and asking how I’m going, what I’m cooking. They are the most amazing teachers I’ve ever been around.”

WITT Secondary Tertiary Pathways Coordinator Brigitte Hamilton said that when she first met Jenissa, she didn’t have a clear pathway for what she wanted to do, but showed lots of potential to be successful.

“It was probably only a matter of weeks into term one of the Trades Academy cookery class that Jenissa really started to shine,” Brigitte said.

“Coming to WITT, getting to use the fabulous cooking facilities, work with chefs and meet other students passionate about cooking helped to grow the seed of interest that had been growing for Jenissa and turn this into a real career pathway.

“This is the beauty of what Trades Academy has to offer students; the ability to get a taste for a career pathway that they are curious about. The opportunity to come into a tertiary environment, meet new people, gain new experiences all while working towards gaining NCEA credits, it is a win-win situation.”

To find out more about the Trades Academy and other Secondary to Tertiary Pathway programmes designed to get high school students into trades-based, tertiary study, visit

Pictured: Jenissa Whitmore at graduation with her mum