Kangan Institute Class of 2016 award winners

Kangan Institute Class of 2016 award winners

 
 
 
 
Aunty Janice Bakes

Aunty Janice Bakes, Certificate IV in Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Cultural Arts


 
 
 
 
 
Jeremy

Conor Ryan, Certificate II in Automotive Studies (Pre-Vocational)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Lacey Walters

Lacey Walters, Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care




 
Conor Ryan
 
 
 

Conor Ryan, Gold Medallion – Automotive
Certificate II in Automotive Studies (Pre-Vocational)

 
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed studying at Kangan Institute. The facility is great. The people are really nice and they know what they’re talking about.”

When you truly have a passion, nothing should really get in the way of pursuing it. For pre-apprentice Conor, his love for cars inspired him to take on automotive as a VET subject while completing his Year 12 VCE. And this was a decision that has since put him on the fast track to success.

“I’ve always been interested in cars. My dad has always been into it and it’s something that I’ve always enjoyed – working on cars and playing around with them,” he said.

His natural flair in the workshop and passionate approach to learning was evident to his teachers, who encouraged him to participate in the 2016 WorldSkills national competition as a Victorian representative.

“I was pretty stoked that I got the opportunity, thanks to Kangan Institute. I think my training helped me arrive at this competition because it’s helped me learn basics as well as the more advanced sections which I need to be able to compete,” he said.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed studying at Kangan Institute. The facility is great. The people are really nice and they know what they’re talking about. It doesn’t feel like school even though it is. It’s just lots of fun.”

The keen learner intends to rev up a future in the fast lane by specialising in motorsport and race cars. He has been involved in historic motor racing and looks forward to further studies in motorsport.

“I’d love to get into race car engineering and working on racing cars, the older the better,” he said.

“I’ve been accepted into the Certificate III in Motorsport Technology at Kangan Institute and I’ve very excited about starting. I’m hoping it will lead me into the industry of motor racing and maybe even overseas to work on racing cars.”

 
Lacey Walters
 
 
 

Lacey Walters, Gold Medallion – Health and community
Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care

 
“I was out of education and training for so long that I was scared of coming back. But the way the teachers run the classes made me feel comfortable and supported.”

Lacey has always had a passion for working with younger children. Having been a stay home mum to four kids for many years, she knew her passion and experience could help her advance into a career in childhood education.

“I decided I could see myself doing this for a long time so I spoke to a few friends in the industry and decided to jump straight in to training,” she said.

“The first six months was hard – from getting back into studying after a long time, to learning computer systems and making friends. Most people in the course were younger than me. But I got into the swing of everything.”

For Lacey, one of the best parts of her studies was completing practical work placements as part of the course.

“I got to do three work placements and I’d learn something new each time. My last placement was my favourite as it cemented everything I learnt over the last 18 months and I found it easier to take on a leadership role by then,” she said.

“The placements taught me so much about creativity and how kids learn. It really opened my eyes and changed the way I do things, even as a mom.”

Lacey encourages other mature age individuals seeking a new future to give education a go. “I was 18 when I had my first child and left school halfway through Year 11. I was out of education and training for so long that I was scared of coming back. But the way the teachers run the classes made me feel comfortable and supported,” she said.

“Kangan Institute is an overall experience – the learning and support, the environment… it’s all part and parcel of what helped me complete my studies. Getting around campus you see a variety of people, ages and cultures. Everyone is friendly and helpful because at the end of the day, we’re all here for the same reason.”

Lacey is currently employed as a room leader at Oakhill Family Center and looks forward to delving into child advocacy in the future.

“I want to advocate for children, especially vulnerable children, and hopefully make a difference in their life. I’m really passionate about it as children have a voice and the right to be heard, to be safe and to be protected,” she said.

 
 
Aunty Janice Bakes
 
 
 

Aunty Janice Bakes, Uncle Norm Hunter Gold Medallion – Indigenous education
Certificate IV in Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Cultural Arts

 
“Education should always come first and I’m just grateful I can get to learn more.”

Learning can take place at any point in life and 62-year-old Aunty Janice shows us that it’s never too late to return to education and pursue one’s passions.

“Cultural art has always been part of my life. I came to TAFE to learn how to use the computer but saw the art room and found myself drawn to it. That’s when I decided to sign up for certificate studies in Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Arts,” she said.

“I’m very satisfied with the course. I’m learning so much about my own culture again and this is really important because people in the past didn’t talk much about their lives and the same thing happened with my life. Art has given me a way to tell my story through my artwork.”

According to the Aboriginal Elder, the opportunity to complete her studies at the dedicated Indigenous Education Centre (IEC) has also added to the joy of learning.

“I was a mother and housewife at 18. I also worked at various places and performed as a musician. Those were all learning stages of life but I never had the proper opportunity to learn and gain knowledge. Education should always come first so I’m just grateful I can get to learn more now,” she said.

“Having a dedicated centre that helps with Indigenous people is great. The IEC provides a respectful and helpful environment; everyone there is like an extended family. The teachers are really supportive and help you one-on-one.

“As an Elder I also get to help young students with their lives and problems they may have. I’ve even encouraged my grandson back into full-time studying.”

Aunty Janice has much planned for the future – she will be undertaking the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) while continuing to enhance her computer skills and pursue music.

“I want to bring music and art together and my plan is to translate my songs into an artwork and to let my artwork tell the story of what I’ve done,” she said.

 
 
 
 
Nellie Baker

Nellie Baker, Certificate II in Electrical



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Rebecca O’Brien

Rebecca O’Brien, Certificate IV in Companion Animal Services
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sophie Hernandez

Sophie Hernandez, Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE)


 
Nellie Baker
 
 
 

Nellie Baker, Gold Medallion – Construction and industrial
Certificate II in Electrical

 
“Being a female in trade isn’t as big or scary as you may think. My teachers have made me feel confident and comfortable. I’m now excited to start my apprenticeship and see where I can go with it.”

When Nellie decided to change her career and pursue training to become an electrician, she knew the journey would have its challenges. But she’d tell you today that it’s all worth it.

“I studied fashion and nutrition in the past and worked in hospitality, but none of these paths were right for me. I’ve always enjoyed hands-on, practical work and knew of many friends who work in trades and enjoy it,” said the 28-year-old.

“Going back to studies was a difficult choice to make, but I knew it was something I had to do. I chose to do a pre-apprenticeship in electrical as it’d enable me to join my two areas of interest – the mathematical and scientific theory sides of things as well as the hands-on, practical work.”

Nellie cites the flexible nature of her course and supportive teachers as integral to helping her overcome challenges of a mid-career change.

“It was a struggle to maintain the work-study balance, but one of the benefits of Kangan Institute was being able to do the course part-time and structure your studies around work hours,” she said.

“I was initially worried about entering the trade as a female, but realised that there are a lot of females out there and it shouldn’t be something that holds you back. Being a female in trade isn’t as big or scary as you may think. My teachers have made me feel confident and comfortable.”

Next up for Nellie is completing an electrical apprenticeship within the commercial industry. “During my course I did a little bit of work experience by accompanying a domestic electrician and learning on the job. I’m now excited to start my apprenticeship and see where I can go with it. I’m looking forward to getting the skills to be a great electrician; the apprenticeship will open many doors for me,” she said.

 
Rebecca O'Brien
 
 

Rebecca O’Brien, Gold Medallion – Food and fibre
Certificate IV in Companion Animal Services

 
“I’d tell others who are thinking of a career change to take the plunge. Do a job that you love every day.”

As someone who’s always loved animals, Rebecca knew that carving a new future in animal services was something she needed to do.

“I worked for five years as a traffic controller but I’d always had a passion for animals and wanted to do something to make a difference to animal welfare. So I started looking at courses and chose Kangan Institute because its flexible structure would allow me to work while studying,” she said.

Being able to successfully juggle work and studies was something Rebecca sees as a personal feat.

“It was a big thing to come back to school after ten years, but Kangan Institute provided a really friendly and helpful learning environment,” she said.

“Working and studying at the same time was one of my biggest achievements. I worked up to seven nights a week and I had to find the time to fit in assignments and work placements. My employer and teachers were very helpful and accommodating.”

Rebecca, who also spends her free time volunteering at her local vet and animal friendly events like the Royal Melbourne Show, says her course has fully prepared her for a career as an animal attendant.

“As part of the course, I did a placement at a dog day care centre gained a lot of hands on experience. The course has made me confident and ready to take on new challenges. I’m now able to go out, get a job and know that I’ve got the skillset and knowledge to handle situations,” she said.

Her advice for other people contemplating a career change? Just go for it. “I’d tell others who are thinking of a career change to take the plunge. Do a job that you love every day. I was a bit scared to take the leap but it’s really paid off,” she said.

 
Sophie Hernandez
 
 
 

Sophie Hernandez, Gold Medallion – Foundations and pathways
Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE)

 
“Going to TAFE made a big difference. It opened up a lot of pathways into things I didn’t know I could do.”

Sophie was just 14 years old when she became a full-time carer for her mother who’d been in a car accident. Her new responsibilities made it difficult to complete regular schooling so Sophie turned to home schooling and then TAFE to complete her education.

“I was home schooled for three years to take care of my mum. I felt fairly isolated and it was a tough time. My mum then suggested going to TAFE to complete my VCE so I enrolled at Kangan Institute when I was 17,” she said.

The move to TAFE gradually transformed Sophie’s life for the better.

“It helped me socially and I started to become a more open, confident person,” she said.

“I had the option of completing Year 12 over two years, which allowed me to still take care of mum, my younger brother and other household responsibilities. My teachers also helped me cope with my carer commitments – if I had to leave early or be late to class due to hospital appointments they’d help me with whatever I’d missed.”

Sophie hopes to become a curator in the future and has next steps all mapped out. “I joined a book group and met a librarian who got me really interested in this line of work.

I want to work as a curator in museums eventually, within the old books section,” she said. “Going to TAFE made a big difference. It opened up a lot of pathways into things I didn’t know I could do. My teachers gave me information for further education and helped me figure out university pathways to get into the line of work I want.

My next steps are to complete a degree in art history curating or information and library management.”

 
 
 
 
Stephan Long

Stephan Long, Diploma of Music


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Fadi Adel Azeez

Fadi Adel Azeez, Certificate II in General Education


 
 
 
 
 
Harry Milward

Harry Milward, Advanced Diploma of Applied Fashion Design and Technology


 

 
Stephan Long
 
 

Stephan Long, Gold medallion – Professional and creative industries
Diploma of Music

 
“My teachers were always supportive and it made a huge difference. They were people I could look up to.”

The road to success is different for everyone. Stephan, who is all set for an exciting future specialising in audio studies, is proof that unique educational paths can lead to some fantastic outcomes.

“High school was never for me. I started year 11 VET in Schools in Music with Kangan Institute and decided to leave mainstream school to pursue music as a speciality. I enrolled in the Certificate II in Music at Kangan Institute and progressed into certificate III, IV and diploma levels,” he said.

“I’ve grown to no end since the beginning of this course and my confidence has gone through the roof. My supportive teachers made a huge difference – they were people I can look up to who were genuinely interested in us. I also enjoyed learning with other students who have the same experiences and enjoy the same things I do.”

Throughout his course, Stephan went the extra mile to pursue his passion in audio engineering by voluntarily helping other students with producing an album.

“During my diploma studies, I assisted students with recording tracks and helped the certificate IV class with engineering their album. This meant coming to TAFE outside of my classes. It was a great experience to help others as I got to work with talented musicians on things I wouldn’t have had a chance to work in otherwise,” he said.

Stephan intends to keep developing his skills in audio engineering, film and multimedia while pursuing the Bachelor of Audio at university. His motivation to succeed is something he attributes to his studies at TAFE.

“This is what I want to focus the rest of my life on,” he said.

“This award shows that my hard work is starting to pay off and I’m glad everything led to this point.

“I lacked motivation when I first started but through the course, I gained confidence to pursue my dreams. TAFE teaches you to give things a try, with incredible teachers always there if you need help. Kangan Institute will change your life and the best years of my life have been here. I’d recommend this music course to anybody who wants to pursue it.”

 
Harry Milward
 
 
 

Harry Milward, Inspirational Student of the Year Award
Advanced Diploma of Applied Fashion Design and Technology

 
“I had no idea how to sew and didn’t know anything about patternmaking. But the teachers here are really amazing and coming in fresh enabled me to learn so many new things.”

Taking on fashion studies at age 24 with no prior experience in the field can be daunting. But Harry shows us that becoming a late blooming fashion star is not such an impossible task after all.

“I worked as a photographer for several years, but got really burnt out and wanted to find a new outlet. I always liked fashion even when I was in photography; it’s a great way to express yourself,” he said.

Starting the course wasn’t always smooth-sailing for the experienced photographer, but guidance and encouragement from his teachers helped Harry find his way.

“I had no idea how to sew and didn’t know anything about patternmaking. It was a struggle. But the teachers here are really amazing and coming in fresh enabled me to learn so many new things,” he said.

“The feedback I receive from my teachers for assignments are always encouraging. I’d cut them out and stick them on the wall next to my desk to keep me going whenever I feel stressed out.”

As his studies progressed, Harry steadily elevated his fashion skills to great heights and was selected to showcase his Tokyo-inspired fashion collection, Storm, in the 2016 Melbourne Spring Fashion Week’s Emerging Collective Runway.

“Through the course, I gained many opportunities to grow my skills and gain new experiences. I got the opportunity to go on study tours to Japan and Indonesia, which opened my eyes to new inspirations. I was also selected to participate in the 2016 Melbourne Spring Fashion Week, which was a tremendous honour and experience,” he shared.

“I’ve just started assisting local designer Vincent Li as an intern and it’s very rewarding work within a great environment!”

To Harry, the right learning environment made all the difference to his journey as a mature-age learner.

“I’d definitely recommend Kangan Institute to others. Here you get the attention you need and learn real skills in great facilities. The teachers here are amazing and know everybody’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s a fantastic place to be and it’s been a second home to me,” he said.

 
Fadi Azeez
 
 
 

Fadi Adel Azeez, Foundations Adult Learner of the Year Award
Certificate II in General Education

 
“It’s not easy looking after my mother and studying, but I always try to do my best. I think it’s important to improve my skills to get a job in the future.”

Fadi moved to Australia from Iraq over three years ago to seek a better life. Upon settling here, he assumed responsibility as a full-time carer for his mother but continued to pursue general education studies as a way to improve his prospects in this new country.

“My mother had many health problems when we arrived so I became her full-time carer,” said the 33-year-old who holds a computer science degree and extensive experience as an information technology (IT) programmer in Iraq.

“Many students don’t understand why I chose to study as it’s not required for carers, but it’s a choice I made. It’s not easy looking after my mother and studying, but I always try to do my best. I think it’s important to improve my skills to get a job in the future.”

In addition to enabling him to improve his English communication skills, the course also provided Fadi with opportunities to undertake work placement within an IT department and inspire other learners and educators.

“I’ve improved so much since doing the course. I love meeting different students from different cultures and practising communicating with each other. As I am experienced with computers, I also get to help other learners with computer work,” he said.

“A highlight of my studies was when I was invited to speak at the 2016 Victorian Adult Literacy and Basic Education Council (VALBEC) conference. It was a chance to share my experiences in learning new skills and applying in the workplace.”

Fadi plans to keep studying to achieve his goal of attaining employment in IT.

“I’ll be enrolling in the Certificate IV in Information Technology and hope to do the diploma after that. I’ll then enter university or find work. I feel really excited about this award as it’s something that I can include in my resume and increase my chances of finding a job,” he said.

 
 
 
 
Tamani Nicholls
Tamani Nicholls, VCAL Senior
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Tamani Nicholls
 
 

Tamani Nicholls, Arnold Davis Koorie Student of the Year Award
VCAL Senior

 
“Returning to education gave me a sense of purpose and the confidence to be a role model for my son, my nieces and nephews, and my community.”

Tamani had two goals in mind when she decided to return to studies at age 25: to gain a job to move into her own house and to pursue her dreams of being a café owner.

“I was a stay home mum for many years and decided to return to education so that I could better my own life,” she said.

“I had completed a Certificate I in Information Technology at Kangan Institute in 2008 and it helped me get a job at a solicitor’s office, so I know studies can help me find employment.” Coming back to education wasn’t always easy for the single mum who also faced domestic and housing issues during the course of her studies. But Tamani says the benefits far outweigh the challenges.

“The Indigenous Education Centre (IEC) provided me with a safe family environment and studying helped me deal with the personal issues I had. I knew that if I put my mind to it I could successfully complete the course,” she said.

Tamani’s success in studies was evident in the work she produced – as part of her course she coordinated a Cultural Community Day to raise funds for the HeartKids Foundation.

“The fundraiser was a success and it brought a lot of the Indigenous community back together whilst raising awareness about education opportunities at the IEC,” she said.

Tamani has one message for others hoping to transform their lives – stay positive and have faith that education can make a real difference.

“Returning to education gave me a sense of purpose and the confidence to be a role model for my son, my nieces and nephews, and my community. It’s important to strive for the best and be positive. You’re never too old to learn and the choices you make will affect your life in a big way,” she said.

“My focus now is to find a great job, get my own house and build towards my dream of being a café owner.”