Molly Smith, 17, wants to show kids from regional towns there is more than one pathway to career success.
Molly, Hillvue, is studying for a Certificate III in Health Services Assistance at TAFE NSW Tamworth, as is Somerton resident, Elizabeth King, 18, and both accepted School Based Trainee of the Year and VET in Schools Student of the Year awards at the 2023 NSW Training Awards on Friday, September 15.
They were two of three young local women to be presented with awards, during the evening which was held at Sydney Town Hall.
The third was Westdale local, Aaliyah Morley, who was named Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year.
The annual awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of students, trainees, and apprentices in the vocational education and training sector, with finalists representing the best in their field.
Accepting the award for School Based Trainee of the Year, Molly said she was thrilled to come out on top.
"I am absolutely shocked to have won, but it means the absolute world and has really solidified all my hard work so far," she said.
"I want to show kids, including those from regional towns, that there's more than just one pathway to success and vocational training can open so many doors."
Through TAFE NSW training, Molly said she worked at Tamworth hospital as a school-based trainee for the past two years and would be transferring to an Assistant in Nursing role when she completed her course.
"My goal is to spread the word that vocational education and training is the best way to gain job-ready skills and it provides a steppingstone to work, university, or other study," she said.
"I'm looking forward to progressing through to the National Awards and continuing to mentor the next generation of students and encouraging them to follow their passion."
VET in Schools Student of the Year, Ms King, said it was a rewarding feeling to be named the best out of a strong list of nominees.
"I've worked extremely hard to get to this point, and it means a lot to be recognised for my efforts," she said.
"It's incredibly special to see how far I've come through my studies at TAFE NSW, and to be a part of the vocational education and training sector.
"I want to encourage people from all walks of life to explore a vocational education path as it allows you to gain job-ready skills and can open so many doors.
"Vocational education and training is the future of the workforce."
Ms King said she would never have imagined she'd become an Educational Pathways VET Ambassador and progress to the National Awards, "but it has been incredibly rewarding and special to mentor the next generation of students".
As a Gomeroi woman, Ms Morley felt it was her responsibility to close the education gap for Indigenous Peoples and connect students with local Gamilaraay language and culture.
She took on a Certificate III in School Based Education Support which saw her working in a school-based traineeship at the local primary school while studying for her HSC.
"I am deeply passionate and devoted to my community, so this course was the best decision I ever made for myself and my future," she said.
"Being able to help normalise Gamilaraay culture throughout the school environment and being a role model - it's been nothing but rewarding.
"My own experiences make it easier to understand those who are facing difficulty with their learning and home life. Getting to see the opportunities for growth I've created for these young people has been one of my biggest professional achievements."
In addition to her work, Ms Morley supports her community through coaching, Aboriginal dance and weaving, and is a student representative.
As a young student leader, Ms Morley says her greatest achievement is inspiring her students, community and family to consider the pathway and redevelop Aboriginal stereotypes.
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