A STUDENT from University Centre Colchester has been celebrated for “defying norms” and having “excelled throughout her career journey”.

Erin Thomas began an apprenticeship at Colchester Institute in 2015, studying a Level 3 Engineering Technician apprenticeship with Woods Air Movement.

The company specialises in the design, test, certification and manufacture of axial fans.

Having broken barriers as a female engineer, Erin completed three apprenticeship programmes during her eight-year journey, graduating with a distinction grade on her Level 6 apprenticeship.

Erin's outstanding success was recognised with the prestigious Degree Apprentice of the Year award in October 2023. 

Mark Cherry, head of applied technologies at University Centre Colchester, said: "Erin’s achievement reflects years of study and commitment. 

“A final distinction grade is a fitting tribute to her efforts and testament to her employer's support."

Woods Air Movement also commended Erin, saying: "Erin has consistently delivered to an exceptional level and is a well-respected colleague. 

“Engaging and approachable, Erin goes the extra mile and is highly valued by the Senior Leadership Team at Woods Air Movement, regarded as a rising star."

During her studies, Erin acquired various qualifications within the programmes.

She achieved multiple milestones with the same employer, all while balancing work and life commitments.

Erin said: “I cannot recommend the apprenticeship route enough.

“Why wouldn’t you want to earn while you learn and have no debit at the end of it? It’s a no brainer in my opinion. 

“It’s not just the industry knowledge you gain but the people skills, time management and presentation skills too. 

“At 22, I was able to buy a house, drive a decent car, become totally independent and I now have an incredible CV too.”

A spokesman added: “University Centre Colchester congratulates Erin on her historic achievement, setting a new standard for excellence in apprenticeships. 

“Her story not only celebrates individual success but also inspires others to strive for greatness.”