Young and inspirational TAFE students celebrated through state award

Kangan Institute has joined forces with the 7News Victorian Young Achiever Awards to celebrate the success of some of Victoria’s most inspiring young TAFE students.

The Inspirational TAFE Student Award, sponsored by Kangan Institute, was presented to Rebecca Hope on 14 June in recognition of her dedication to overcoming barriers relating to autism and anxiety while continuing her education and professional journey.

Rebecca is a young advocate for disability inclusion in workplaces who is making a positive impact in the community through her current role at autism inclusive organisation Amaze.

The award was open to candidates across Victoria in recognition of go-getters under 30 who have overcome challenges to achieve success in their educational field.

Five finalists contended for the top spot, including:

·         Rebecca Hope, Melbourne Polytechnic business graduate  

·         Ali Rezaie, Kangan Institute autobody repair graduate

·         Taylah Firmer, Bendigo TAFE nursing graduate

·         Desirae Kilduff, Bendigo TAFE training and assessment, leadership and management, and human resources graduate

·         Shee Lay Bell Po, Bendigo TAFE pathology collection graduate 

(L-to-R: Kangan Institute CEO Sally Curtain, finalist Shee Lay Bell Po, winner Rebecca Hope and finalist Desirae Kilduff)

Five semi-finalists were also recognised at the event, joining more than 40 young achievers recognised across various individual and group categories at the 7News Victorian Young Achiever Awards.

With Kangan Institute in its seventh year as sponsor for the Inspirational TAFE Student Award, Kangan Institute Chief Executive Officer Sally Curtain said it was a privilege to once again celebrate the success of Victoria’s most resilient and accomplished young people.

“At Kangan Institute, we believe in the power of vocational education and training to unlock potential and create rewarding career paths,” Sally said.

“The Kangan Institute Inspirational TAFE Student Award celebrates the achievements of young people, like this year’s winner Rebecca, who have embraced education to overcome challenges and attain success.

“Congratulations to Rebecca and the amazing finalists and semi-finalists. It’s an absolute privilege to be able to celebrate Victoria’s remarkable students through the Kangan Institute Inspirational TAFE Student Award, and we know they will inspire more young achievers to make their mark on the world.”


Automotive apprentice recognised amongst Victoria’s most inspiring young students

Young autobody repair apprentice Ali Rezaie from Kangan Institute was one of five finalists honoured at the 2024 7News Victorian Young Achiever Awards as part of the Inspirational TAFE Student Award.

A proud Afghan man, 23-year-old Ali moved to Australia three years ago to join his family, working hard to accustom himself to a new language, culture and way of life. Initially working in a meat factory, Ali was introduced by a friend to panel beating and soon began an apprenticeship at AMA Group’s Capital S.M.A.R.T.

“I was looking for a career, for a skill I could do for the rest of my life. When I found panel beating, I thought, ‘that’s a great job!’. It’s very interesting and I just went for it,” Ali said. 

Ali’s skill and confidence grew in leaps and bounds as he embraced various experiences and opportunities in the trade, including volunteering to compete in WorldSkills Australia Regional and National competitions in 2022 and 2023, which led him to silver and bronze medals respectively. 

“I want to push myself and this is the best way to do that. I’m glad to have been chosen to compete. It’s a good chance to learn more things,” Ali said of his WorldSkills experience. 

(Ali Rezaie with his Kangan Institute teacher Sam Khalifeh)

Continuing to strive for excellence in the workplace and at TAFE, Ali also clinched the 2022 Capital S.M.A.R.T Victorian Apprentice of the Year and 2024 Kangan Institute Rising Star Award: Autobody Apprentice, crediting his teachers, mentors and employer for his success.

“I want to thank the teachers from Kangan; my trainers helped me a lot, as well as the company I’m working with, AMA Group,” said Ali.

Kangan Institute Chief Executive Officer Sally Curtain congratulated Ali on being shortlisted for the award.

“It was fantastic to see one of Kangan Institute’s students, Ali Rezaie, recognised amongst Victoria’s most notable young achievers,” Sally said.

“This acknowledgement is yet another feat on Ali’s already impressive list of achievements. His unwavering determination to overcome challenges and achieve educational and professional success is truly inspiring.

“Seeing our students achieve their best, like Ali has, exemplifies the core mission of Kangan Institute: equipping our students with the skills and confidence to build bright futures, while meeting critical skill needs in the region.”

Having recently concluded his apprenticeship, Ali is now living out his dream career as a qualified panel beater.

Full details of winners are available on the Victorian Young Achiever Awards website

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