At highschool in Wellington Jes Howes was struggling to flourish and fast losing self esteem. By Year 13, Jes decided it was time to move on and find a different pathway. With encouragement from her parents, who knew she had a passion for cooking, she researched options at Whitireia and WelTec and started on her journey to her dream.
Jes quickly immersed herself in her new, hands-on, practical study in the commercial kitchens of the hospitality campus of Whitireia and WelTec and qualified in bakery, cookery and hospitality management. This experience cemented her ideas about pursuing a career doing what she loved, cooking - Jes wanted to start her own food truck business.
“I love cooking and baking and it was while I was doing my courses that I came up with my food truck idea,” says Jes.
“I have this vision of a cool truck serving burgers and chips to people out on a Saturday night on Courtney Place. It will be fun and I know everyone loves hot, fresh food when they have had a big night out!”
To complement her hospitality qualifications and to help her set up the new business, Jes has returned to learning at Whitireia and WelTec to gain the accounting and management knowledge she needs to get going with her plans.
Jes is now in the process of completing this qualification and recently spoke about her experiences to almost 700 students at the recent graduation ceremony held by Whitireia and WelTec.
“When I was at school I was low in confidence and really did not know what I wanted to do,” says Jes. “When I started at Whitireia and WelTec | Te Pūkenga I met such lovely people in my class and I realised there was a student support team, which I could reach out to about my learning difficulties.
“The student support team was absolutely amazing. They helped me navigate my study and helped me explain my situation to my tutors. They gave me tips and tools to ensure I could qualify. Also, no-one had ever picked up, but it turns out I had auditory processing issues and the student advisors helped me get checked and find a way to manage this so that I could still make the most of my study.
“I am so excited that I will have the qualifications I need and will be ready to start my business,” says Jes. “My Mum and Dad are being very helpful and we are already working on the plan.
“I can’t believe that I am where I am now with making my ideas real, and also speaking to such a big group at the graduation ceremony! Who would have thought?!”
“Jes is truly an inspiration and despite potential learning barriers, she has achieved both personal and academic success,” says Rebecca Burns, Disability Advisor (Disability, Mental Wellbeing and Learning Difficulties), at Whitireia and WelTec. “The importance of seeking and receiving support is strongly evident and I know that Jes is a strong advocate for our support services which extends to both students and staff. Jes has been able to share her learning experiences with staff which has further informed their teaching practices and benefited both current and future ākonga. We have been privileged to walk this journey alongside Jes.”