A Caerphilly woman has swapped the classroom for kiwis after landing her dream job in New Zealand.
19-year-old Gracie Messner, from Llanbradach, is living and working on the remote Waiheke Island off the coast of Auckland after taking a job as a graphic designer at a web development company.
Gracie studied A levels in fine art, graphic design and ICT at Coleg y Cymoeddâ€™s Ystrad Mynach campus before travelling round New Zealand after finishing her exams in 2013. Originally planning a short visit to the country, Gracie has now set-up a permanent home on Waiheke Island and is hoping to apply for permanent residency as soon as she is eligible.
While she was travelling, Gracieâ€™s talent for graphic design was spotted by her new employer after she designed a logo for a new bar and restaurant that was opening on the island. The agency were so impressed with her talents that they offered her a full-time position.
Speaking about her new life, Gracie said: â€œLife in New Zealand is a world away from home but I absolutely love it. Waiheke Island is a tiny, tight-knit community where everyone knows each other so it has some similarities to Llanbradach! I had originally planned to go to university after travelling but I am so happy here I donâ€™t want to leave and have instead signed up for a part-time online degree course in graphic design.
â€œI have always been a creative person but until I went to Coleg y Cymoedd I didnâ€™t know how I could make a career out of my passion. The college tutors were so passionate and really encouraged me to develop my confidence, while at the same time giving me the freedom to develop my own style. When it came to getting my first job I definitely felt able to present myself and my work to them.â€
Vanessa Batten, Gracieâ€™s graphic design tutor at Coleg y Cymoedd, said: â€œGracie is a fantastic example of what students from our course can achieve. It is almost unheard of for agencies to take on employees straight from A Level courses but in this case Gracie blew them away with her work and talent for design.
â€œIâ€™m delighted Gracie has decided to continue her studies part-time as she will continue to develop her skills and learning. We have had great success with students on the A Level graphic design course at Coleg y Cymoedd over recent years with the majority being accepted onto degree courses without the requirement of the foundation course which is usually expected by universities.â€
Rhondda Cynon Taff