Gemma McCoyd recently graduated with a first-class masters degree in maths, but has shunned a lucrative offer to become an actuary for a top London firm.
Instead, the 24-year-old has enrolled on an advanced plastering course.
Gemma, from Halstead in Essex, got interested in plastering on an art course while studying for her degree in the US.
She told The Sun: "If I was an actuary I could earn £100,000 a year. Instead I earn less than £6,000.
"Some people say I'm crazy but I have to do what I love or I'll always regret it. I didn't want to sit in an office bored out of my mind. This is what I'm passionate about."
Ms McCoyd is the only female in her 30-strong class at Leicester College.
She told The Times: "I'm still not the fastest, but I've actually become the best. When I do a job I charge by square metre rather than by the day, so the customer knows they're getting a job well done."
Ms McCoyd, who is dyslexic, plans to specialise in restoration.
"The parts of the course I enjoy the best are intricate things like fibrous plastering, cornices, coving and fireplaces," she told The Times. (Roundup)