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Never too old to learn new things

The first batch of graduates from Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology’s Bachelor of Creative Industries walked across the stage this week at Holy Trinity Church.

The three-year degree offers majors in Visual Art, Graphic Design, and Fashion Design. And 65-year-old Norah Maclachlan (pictured) is among them, and credits the staff at the institute for helping her achieve her goal.

“Being an older student, I have a problem understanding written word, which was a challenge in itself. But I had a very understanding tutor, who pushed me when I thought I couldn’t do it.”

She’s always sewn and enjoyed craftwork, and after her job was disestablished, she decided to try something new.

“Being an older person made it quite hard to get another job,” says Norah.

“My son was already studying to be a fashion designer, and he suggested I start doing the certificate in fashion at the institute.

“I already knew how to sew, so the biggest challenge was making my own patterns. But that whetted my appetite, and encouraged me to carry on to the bachelor degree.”

Norah says the degree was a bit of a learning curve, but it also allowed her to pick up more skills.

“We did more than just fashion. We worked on the business side, and learned about graphic design and visual arts as well.”

And her ambition now?

“I’m a bigger woman, and short, so what I want to do is create stylish patterns for women with that shape. I’ve tried looking for clothes myself, and they often look like sacks,” laughs Norah.

“What I’m exploring at the moment is my craftwork, so I’m working on showcasing that for a start.”

With a degree under her belt, she no doubt has many more options now. Her advice to people thinking about studying is to have a go, no matter what prior experience you have.

“If you have a passion for art, or a passion for fashion, go for it. It doesn’t matter what age you are, or the challenges you face. It’s worth it in the end.”

Article by Ryan Wood published in the Weekend Sun 16th December 2016

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