From trades to arts, passionate students across a range of qualifications were recognised at the South West TAFE graduation.
SW TAFE chief executive Mark Fidge said the awards night was a fantastic opportunity to celebrate its students’ success.
He said it was particularly pleasing to congratulate and reward all of the outstanding student award winners for 2018.
He said students were nominated by their teachers and then interviewed by a panel to decide winners across six categories.
“It is such a huge honour for these students who have all excelled in their studies and have all gone on to be working in their fields and doing amazing things in the community.”
Among the winners was Youth Student of The Year Adia Quinlivan who is now a head chef, thanks to a move to study the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) in year 10.
Adia completed her Senior VCAL and Certificate III in Hospitality studies last year while also working part-time.
She said it was the best decision she had ever made and led her to her current job and furthered her hospitality industry knowledge.
Adia said she realised she was a hands-on learner and the VCAL style of study really suited her.
She said she never dreamed of being a head chef at such a young age, enjoying the top job at Portland café Bahloo.
Adia said the life skills she received as part of her studies were invaluable.
Adia’s teacher said she took on a leadership role within class, always motivating other students to produce a high standard of work.
Koorie Student of The Year Tanya McDonald chose to study a Diploma of Community Services as a way to give back to local services who have provided her with support throughout her life.
Tanya worked as a dairy herd manager, bookkeeper and in administration for Kirrae Health Services before beginning her studies.
She said the community services course appealed to her and she felt that now was her time to give back.
Tanya is the Kirrae Health Services board chairwoman and also spends time mentoring young girls and participating in an Aboriginal dance group.
During her diploma, Tanya completed a Graduate Certificate in Family Therapy, while raising her three children.
Since completing her studies, Tanya has started a role with the Aboriginal Family Violence Legal Service, supporting women with legal issues arising from family violence.
Tanya is now working at South West Healthcare and is in the process completing its Reconciliation Action Plan.
She plans to continue to develop her skills to eventually work at a policy level where she can have a significant impact on her community and beyond.
Tourism student Skye Henry-Litster created an Aboriginal tour of the city’s Indigenous highlights for visitors to Warrnambool while studying.
Skye received a highly commended in the Koorie Student of The Year Award.
She completed her Certificate III in Tourismworking as a trainee at Flagstaff Hill and the Warrnambool Visitor Information Centre last year and has gained continued employment with the city council.
During her traineeship, Skye helped to create a new database and induction sessions for all new volunteers.
Skye said her training had taught her valuable communication and customer service skills that would stand her in good stead for the future.
She said she loved sustainability and wildlife conservation and was looking into further study that could lead to a park ranger or a role with Landcare.
Trainee of The Year Ashlea Bentham studied a Certificate III in Tourism and thought it would be a great step towards a career in the travel industry.
The skills and experience she received during her traineeship led to Ashlea gaining casual employment at Warrnambool’s Surfside Caravan Park.
During her traineeship Ashlea developed a successful social media campaign designed to increase caravan park patronage and social media followers.
She also worked with Warrnambool City Council to develop a new television promotion which was screened in the caravan park reception area.
The video she developed included information and greetings in Chinese for the growing Chinese tourism market.
She said her course had helped her gain life skills that she wouldn’t have otherwise received.
Ashlea said she was enjoying her role at Surfside and was also looking at completing further tourism studies.
Ashlea’s teacher described her as an outstanding trainee who was a respected team member at Surfside Caravan Park.
Apprentice of The Year Elijah McLeod‘s passion for fixing things and solving problems has seen him win a swag of awards including apprentice of the Year at the 2018 South West TAFE Trades Award night.
The Certificate III in Engineering – Mechanical Trade student is in the final year of his apprenticeship at Midfield Meats and is considering further study.
Elijah’s studies and work at Midfield have helped to develop his leadership skills with Elijah’s enthusiasm and determination rubbing off on those around him.
His teacher said Elijah took on a mentoring role to the younger students who enjoyed having him in the workshop.
Elijah said he was inspired by his teachers to continue learning and push the boundaries, planning to develop his skills in futuristic engineering.
He said it was extremely rewarding to come up with new ideas and see them put into practice.
Plumbing studentLiam Ryanreceived a highly commended in the Apprentice of The Year category.
Liam completed work experience during high school which gave him an insight into the plumbing industry.
He finished his VCE studies in Portland and was offered an apprenticeship with Finchett’s Plumbing in Hamilton.
Liam completed a Certificate III in Plumbing and said the training he received had helped him in every aspect of his work.
Liam said he loved the variety and particularly liked the challenge of drainage work and laying sewer mains.
Last year Liam was awarded the best third year plumbing apprentice at the South West TAFE Trades Awards night and he plans to go on to complete further study.
Liam’s teacher said he was very successful in completing his Victorian Building Authority journeyman’s exams and was always helping out his classmates at trade school.
The Vocational Student of The Year was awarded to Rosemary Wilson who has always had a passion for conservation and the natural environment.
She waited until her children had grown up to follow her passion with a Diploma of Conservation and Land Management landing Rosemary her dream job.
She worked in the education and disability sectors while studying and was thrilled to gain a job as a Conservation Volunteers Australia team leader before completing the course.
Rosemary said the best part of her job was that she was able to care for the environment every day.
Rosemary works with volunteers, including people who have found it difficult to find work, older community members and international visitors, encouraging some of them to return to study themselves.
Rosemary is now looking at how she can combine her conservation work with her previous disability work.
She said she was extremely proud of her achievement and had even been inspired to go on to further study.
Community Achiever of The YearSusan Tate swapped years of working overseas and in international business for developing her passion for arts at South West TAFE.
Susan said she had always enjoyed art and textiles and the Diploma of Visual Arts taught her to combine textile manipulation with dyeing, drawing and painting to enhance her work and bring her own voice to the medium.
In 2017, Susan was awarded the emerging artist award in the South West Women’s Art prize and is now working towards her first solo art exhibition later this year.
She said she loved every minute of the course and had immersed herself in the arts communities in Colac, Lavers Hill and Apollo Bay since completing her studies.
Susan volunteers with the Colac arts event CrossXpollination and was instrumental in starting local Remakery spaces in Apollo Bay and Lavers Hill, where people can bring various items to be repaired and help to create community spaces.
Susan is driving an initiative for a community artists’ space in Colac and is a Colac Otway Arts Trail committee member.
She volunteers her time producing a Lavers Hill College community newsletter and with another graduate of South West TAFE’s arts course, she has formed the Lavers Hill Craft group.
Susan said her course had introduced her to a great network of people and had given her a greater understanding of the arts world.
Deakin University Pathways Award winner Rebecca Cameron has always had a passion for nursing and returned to study as a mature-age student.
It was only after recently moving back to Heywood that she decided it was it the right time to follow her dream.
Rebecca completed her Diploma of Nursing last year and is now employed as a graduate at the Western District Health Service.
She said returning to study had been a big change after so many years but it helped to build her confidence to go onto to study a Bachelor of Nursing at Deakin University this year.
Rebecca has plans to complete a Masters in Clinical Nursing and choose a specialty field to work in.
She said nursing was a rewarding profession and she was really excited to have finished her course and be taking the next step at university.
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