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From career changers to rising leaders: top students celebrated at Kangan Institute awards ceremony

A pandemic career changer, a rising First Nations leader and a passionate learner with cerebral palsy have been recognised amongst Kangan Institute’s top performing students. 

A total of 80 vocational students and apprentices were honoured at the 2024 Kangan Institute Industry Excellence Awards.

Meet some of our student award winners:

Student of the Year: Joanne Peniston-Bird (view video interview)

Award sponsor: DPV Health

Joanne Peniston-Bird embarked on a major transformation from a 20-year career in the hotel industry to study nursing thanks to the pandemic.

“We were stood down, had no work and I had no idea on when my job was going to be coming back,” Joanne recalled.

At the time, Joanne was also navigating the challenge of her father and best friend suffering from terminal illness while battling her own health issues with chronic endometriosis.

“The world was not getting any easier, my life was not getting any easier, and it was about time that I did something I was really passionate about,” she said.

Joanne decided to pursue her childhood dream of becoming a nurse and enrolled in Kangan Institute’s Diploma of Nursing (HLT54121).

Through her studies, Joanne began to build a brighter future.

“I had something to look forward to, something to work towards... it makes you want to succeed,” Joanne shared.

Joanne is currently working an enrolled nurse in St Vincent's Hospital graduate program.

“It’s a very similar environment to the real world when you are in a hospital ward. The foundation and scaffolding of learning that I had at Kangan has definitely prepared me for the next steps,” Joanne said.

On being awarded the Kangan Institute Student of the Year and Nursing Student of the Year, Joanne hopes her journey will inspire others to pursue their dreams through education, even if it’s later in life.

“There’s no way I would have thought that I would have been able to achieve what I have achieved, and then to be nominated for an award. I definitely have to pinch myself,” she said.

“Anyone my age that would want to get back into studying, I’d absolutely encourage it.”

Joanne plans to continue her nursing journey by studying a Bachelor of Nursing at university.

Uncle Norm Hunter Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year: Taylor Hampton (view video interview)

Award sponsor: Kinaway Chamber of Commerce

A proud Ngiyampaa/Wiradjuri man, Taylor Hampton enrolled in Kangan Institute’s Certificate IV in Leadership and Management to expand his career opportunities while working at the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA).

Achieving on his ambitions, Taylor took on a new role as an (acting) external training program manager which saw him travel around Victoria to deliver cultural training.

Taylor said the award win was recognition of his commitment to gain vital knowledge to develop his own leadership style and put what he learned into practice in the workplace.

“I am very proud of winning this award. I’ve always wanted to go into leadership. It’s one of those big ambitions of mine,” said Taylor.

“I really enjoyed the course – it was around becoming a leader and the components to that as well, like communicating, having difficult conversations… all those little things that I didn’t even think about.”

Taylor is also a senior facilitator for VACCA’s Koorie FACES program and is working on a new program to support parents and carers of Aboriginal children to embed culture in their homes. Taylor has also co-authored a children’s book, Our Mob, to celebrate pride in practicing Aboriginal culture.

 

Kangan Institute Outstanding Passion Award: Feona Magtanum (view video interview)

Award sponsor: Collingwood Football Club

Feona Magtanum’s work placement in a childcare centre during secondary school cemented her desire to work as an early childhood educator.

“As soon as I walked in and saw the children, I just knew straightaway that was what I wanted to do,” Feona shared.

As an individual with cerebral palsy, Feona was determined that nothing would stand in her way.

Feona did her research and decided to enrol in Kangan Institute’s Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care (CHC50121), a Free TAFE course.

Kangan Institute’s course coordinator and education support worker helped Feona navigate challenges throughout her study, like fatigue and stress, which saw Feona successfully complete the qualification and thrive in the workplace.

“The teachers were always so supportive,” Feona said.

“They taught me a lot about their experience and how to overcome challenges. They were very flexible with my study and had the support I needed. I feel like I owe them a lifetime.

“Everything I’ve learned here is exactly the expectations they have at placement. When I was at the center, I knew exactly what they needed me to do. I was very prepared for everything,” she said.

Feona has since secured work as an early childhood educator at an early learning centre and is set to begin in March.

This remarkable effort has also seen her take out Kangan Institute’s Student of the Year: Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care Award!

“I’m shocked to be nominated. It’s unreal, but it’s such an honor,” Feona said.

 

Comments to be attributed:

Sally Curtain, Chief Executive Officer Kangan Institute:  

Kangan Institute Chief Executive Officer Sally Curtain congratulated the students and reflected on the vital role of TAFE in enabling students to achieve success in critical skill shortage areas.

“For nearly 100 years Kangan Institute has played an integral role in Melbourne to support students in gaining skills and training for successful careers while meeting critical skill needs in Victoria,” Sally said.

“Vocational education and training is absolutely critical right now. Government and industries are relying on TAFE to equip students with the in-demand skills of the future.

“There is no better evidence of that than in our award winners who have worked hard to excel and are now well-positioned to help employers take their business to the next level!

“I acknowledge our industry collaborators and the Victorian Government for their invaluable support including Free TAFE, which enables us to deliver world-class training, that aligns with the demands of industry, the economy and the community.”

 

Full list of awards and sponsors:

HAIR, BEAUTY, BARBERING & FASHION

Apprentice of the Year: Barbering

Sponsored by Haircare Group

Caleb Nicol

Apprentice of the Year: Barbering (in salon)

Sponsored by Excellent Edges

Callum Cook

Apprentice of the Year: Hairdressing

Sponsored by Eleven

Dominique Scordel

Apprentice of the Year: Hairdressing (in salon)

Sponsored by Pivot Point

Lauren Tie

Student of the Year: Diploma of Beauty Therapy

Sponsored by Dermalogica and My Hair

Zahia Ali

Student of the Year: Diploma of Applied Fashion Design and Merchandising

Sponsored by Sportsgirl

Natasha Oorloff

Student of the Year: Advanced Diploma of Applied Fashion Design and Merchandising

Sponsored by M.Recht

Bridie Vearing

Student of the Year: Millinery

Sponsored by Hat Blocks Australia

Amanda Ashman

Professional and Services Inspirational Student of the Year

Sponsored by Kangan Institute

Colleen Nathan

 

ANIMALS, PLANTS & SCIENCES

Apprentice of the Year: Landscape Construction

Sponsored by MEGT

Ryan Kennedy

Student of the Year: Parks and Gardens

Sponsored by Felco

Rowan Heywood

Student of the Year: Horticulture

Sponsored by Nursery and Garden Industry Victoria (NGIV)

Georgia Ricciutti

Student of the Year: Food Processing (Brewing)

Hop Products Australia

Zachary Walsh

Student of the Year: Laboratory Sciences

Sponsored by Westlab Pty Ltd

Melissa McDonald

Student of the Year: Animal Studies

Sponsored by ZebraVet

Erin Howell

Student of the Year: Veterinary Nursing

Sponsored by ZebraVet

Terriann Seath

 

HEALTH & COMMUNITY

Student of the Year: Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care

Sponsored by Little V.I.P’s Maidstone

Emel Direk

Student of the Year: Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care

Sponsored by Jenny’s Early Learning

Feona Magtanum (view video interview)

Student of the Year: Nursing

Sponsored by Elsevier Australia

Joanne Peniston-Bird (view video interview)

Student of the Year: Health

Sponsored by Bendigo Health

Nant Khin Min Oo Hauzo (view video interview)

Student of the Year: Community

La Trobe University

Chelsea Fort

 

TRADES

VETDSS Student of the Year: Carpentry

Sponsored by Crescent Tools

Zach Ryan

VETDSS Student of the Year: Electrical

Sponsored by Crescent Tools

Riley Bujak

VETDSS Student of the Year: Engineering

Sponsored by Gearwrench

Lucas Black

VETDSS Student of the Year: Plumbing

Sponsored by Crescent Tools

Cameron Thomson

VETDSS Student of the Year: Trade Skills Centre

Sponsored by Norton

Cameron Thomson

Pre-Apprentice of the Year: Electrical

Sponsored by Middy’s Thomastown

Sishir Thapa

Pre-Apprentice of the Year: Carpentry

Sponsored by Total Tools Bendigo

Arif Kamat

Pre-Apprentice of the Year: Trade Skills Centre

Sponsored by Crescent Tools

Arif Kamat

Apprentice of the Year: Carpentry

Sponsored by Milwaukee Tools

Dylan Robertson

Apprentice of the Year: Electrotechnology Electrician

Sponsored by Energy Safe Victoria

Casey Lupson

Apprentice of the Year: Bricklaying and Blocklaying

Sponsored by FXD

Mitchell Alcaraz

Apprentice of the Year: Wall and Floor Tiling

Sponsored by Crescent Tools

Tony Keach

Apprentice of the Year: Wall and Ceiling Lining

Sponsored by Crescent Tools

Daniel Zinellu

Apprentice of the Year: Engineering (Mechanical)

Sponsored by Hare and Forbes

Jarryd Apap

Apprentice of the Year: Engineering (Fabrication)

Sponsored by Milwaukee Tools

Oliver Ridge

Apprentice of the Year: Trade Skills Centre

Sponsored by Total Tools Bendigo

Oliver Ridge

Outstanding Workplace Based Student

Sponsored by McKay Training

Zakir Hussaini

Outstanding Student: Certificate IV in Engineering

Sponsored by Gearwrench

Anthony Edwards

Outstanding Student: Construction Waterproofing

Sponsored by FXD

James Curtis

Outstanding Student: Solid Plastering

Sponsored by Crescent Tools

Robert Gileno

Outstanding Student: Wall and Floor Tiling

Sponsored by Crescent Tools

Mir Mustafa Rahimi

Outstanding Student: Concreting

Sponsored by Crescent Tools

Gurinderbir Singh

Outstanding Student: Certificate IV in Building and Construction

Sponsored by Crescent Tools

Chloe Seymour

Outstanding Student: Diploma of Building and Construction

Sponsored by Crescent Tools

Clinton Lockhart

Outstanding Women in Trade Apprentice of the Year (Trade Skills Centre)

Sponsored by Total Tools Bendigo

Casey Lupson

Alice Anderson Award

Sponsored by Repco Authorised Service

Isabella Grimley

 

AUTOMOTIVE

Pre-Apprentice of the Year: Automotive

Sponsored by Rotary Club of Albert Park

Zeanna Prasad

Automotive Apprentice of the Year: School Based

Sponsored by Century Yuasa Batteries

Kayden Redden

Apprentice of the Year: Automotive Body Repair - Sheen Group (Key Client)

Sponsored by Sheen Group

Joshua Coats

Apprentice of the Year: Automotive Body Repair - Sheen Group (Key Client)

Sponsored by Sheen Group

Ilhan Bozok

Apprentice of the Year: Automotive Refinishing Technology - Sheen Group (Key Client)

Sponsored by Sheen Group

Scott Somerville

Apprentice of the Year: Heavy Vehicle (Key Client)

Sponsored by Westar Trucks

Lachlan Twemlow

Apprentice of the Year: Light Vehicle (Key Client)

Sponsored by SP Tools

Al Gonzalez

Apprentice of the Year: Automotive Electrical

Sponsored by NAPA Auto Parts

Edward De Castella

Apprentice of the Year: Automotive Parts Interpreting

Sponsored by Gates Australia

Jackson Harlock

Apprentice of the Year: Automotive Refinishing Technology

Sponsored by PPG Industries

Ethan Agius

Apprentice of the Year: Automotive Body Repair

Sponsored by 3M

Daniel Detsis

Apprentice of the Year: Heavy Vehicle

Sponsored by Viva (Shell Rimula)

Jack Rylands

Apprentice of the Year: Heavy Vehicle (Bus)

Sponsored by Bapcor Commercial Vehicle Group

Cooper Tracy

Apprentice of the Year: Light Vehicle

Sponsored by mycar

Cassidy Bartley

Apprentice of the Year: Mobile Plant

Sponsored by William Adams

Django Mathewson (view video interview)

Apprentice of the Year: Motorcycle

Sponsored by Peter Stevens Motorcycles

Jackson Jones

Apprentice of the Year: Outdoor Power Equipment

Sponsored by Briggs and Stratton Australia

Nash Jacobson

Apprentice of the Year: Marine Technology

Sponsored by Mercury Marine

Dimitri Giannakopoulos

Automotive Inspirational Student of the Year

Sponsored by NextGenJobs

Dimitri Giannakopoulos

Rising Star Apprentice: Autobody

Sponsored by Saint Gobain

Ali Rezaie

A.R. (Dick) Jackson Award

Sponsored by Rotary Club of Coburg

Nicholas Fazackerley

Automotive Electrical Achievement Award

Sponsored by Training Systems Australia

Jackson Neaves

Automotive Student of the Year: Motor Sport

Sponsored by Walkinshaw Andretti United

Sarah Abu Awad

The Lindsay Fox Heavy Vehicle Technician Excellence Award

Sponsored by Kangan Institute

Angel Feher

Sir Henry Royce Foundation Award for Excellence

Sponsored by Sir Henry Royce Foundation

Phillip Nguyen

Automotive Apprentice of the Year: Sir Henry Royce Foundation Award

Sponsored by Sir Henry Royce Foundation

Samuel Carmody

 

INSTITUTE WIDE AWARDS

Kangan Institute Outstanding Passion Award

Sponsored by Collingwood Football Club

Feona Magtanum (view video interview)

Kangan Institute Outstanding Accountability Award

Sponsored by Collingwood Football Club

Georgia Ricciutti

Uncle Norm Hunter Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year

Sponsored by Kinaway Chamber of Commerce

Taylor Hampton (view video interview)

Kangan Institute Inspirational Student of the Year

Sponsored by Apprenticeship Employment Network

Nant Khin Min Oo Hauzo (view video interview)

Kangan Institute Inclusivity and Accessibility Award

Sponsored by Precision Group

Erin Howell

Kangan Institute Apprentice of the Year

Sponsored by Apprenticeship Employment Network

Django Mathewson (view video interview)

Kangan Institute Student of the Year

Sponsored by DPV Health

Joanne Peniston-Bird (view video interview)

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