Two Wagga students with a passion for careers in nursing have returned home exhilarated from the state’s peak vocational education and training awards night.
Kooringal High School and Wagga Wagga High School students Jade Tapfield and Caitlin Jolliffe were named finalists in their respective categories at the 2023 NSW Training Awards in Sydney on Friday night (15 September).
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.
Jade was a finalist in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year category while Caitlin was a finalist in the School-Based Apprentice or Trainee of the Year section.
While neither of the TAFE health students claimed the main prize, both said the intense awards process had helped build their confidence and motivated them further to launch careers in health.
Both studied for a Certificate III in Health Services Assistance at TAFE NSW Wagga Wagga.
Jade and Caitlin felt rewarded by being named finalists amid such strong lists of nominees.
“This is such a huge honour and I couldn’t have done it without everyone that supported me,” 17-year-old Jade said.
“I hope I can inspire other young Aboriginal people to know they can achieve anything they can set their mind to.”
A proud Gamilaraay woman, Jade recently completed her school-based traineeship and is working part time as an assistant in nursing at Wagga Base Hospital while also completing her HSC.
She only recently learned about her Aboriginal heritage, a secret tightly held by her grandfather for years due to the shame he was made to feel about his culture when he was younger.
She said she would like to eventually work as a nurse in remote Aboriginal communities.
Jade thanked her parents, her teachers at TAFE and her employer, Murrumbidgee Local Health District, for helping her achieve the award nomination.
“My TAFE NSW teachers always supported me so much and have helped me develop the practical skills I need to make a difference,” she said.
Becoming a finalist was a boost of confidence for Caitlin, who had struggled with stress and anxiety in recent years.
“It hasn’t always been easy balancing my school and TAFE NSW studies, but it’s all been worth it,” she said.
“My TAFE NSW course was so practical, and to be able to study much of it online really gave me flexibility.”
Caitlin was recently accepted into a Bachelor of Nursing course at Charles Sturt University and hopes to eventually work as a nurse in developing nations.