Flying high with School to Skies

Olivia Studholme has discovered the sky’s the limit for career opportunities with the Royal New Zealand Air Force. 

Earlier this year, Olivia was the only South Islander to be selected for a week-long course in Auckland at Whenuapai Airport called School to Skies.

The programme began in 2016 to address the low numbers of women in the male dominated military workforce.  It’s aimed at students who are passionate about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) but unsure about their future pathway. 

“New Zealand needs more women in the aviation industry as engineers, technicians, pilots and more! You have more choices than you probably realise,” the course’s website says. “Aviation offers something for everyone, whether you want to spend your days in the skies or keep your feet firmly planted on the ground.” 

Olivia, who’s just finished her final year at SMC, says it was a fantastic experience and opened her eyes to new opportunities.

“We stayed on the RNZAF base and did all sorts of different things including mission planning, avionics, and fitness testing. We were up at 6am every day.”

“I had always considered going into the defence force because I like physical work and I’m pretty hands on. I’m heading to Otago University next year to do Health Sciences but if I don’t qualify for medical school, then I’ll definitely think about the army or air force.”

“You meet heaps of new people and it’s a fun experience.”

Olivia says she recommends School to Skies to anyone with a keen interest in STEM subjects.

Executive Principal Diana Patchett says School to Skies is a perfect fit for SMC girls.

“Our aim is to empower our girls to learn, live and lead. This course wholly embraces that philosophy. One of the great things about a girls’ school is that our students feel no limitations on what they can achieve. We are thrilled that Olivia was selected for this course, and that she has made the most of this opportunity.”

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