21 June 2024

Narrandera High School captain wins Indigenous VET student of the year award

| Oliver Jacques
Start the conversation
Tahlia Gilbert with award

Tahlia Gilbert says she wants to remain close to family after finishing Year 12. Photo: Supplied.

Narrandera High School captain Tahlia Gilbert has been named Riverina Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander vocational education Student of the Year for 2024.

The 18-year-old Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta woman accepted the NSW Government award at a ceremony in Wagga last week.

“My parents and grandparents are so proud of me,” she said. “They wonder how I can achieve so much when I’ve just started … we are such a close family; everything I do is for them.”

READ ALSO Granting bail for alleged domestic violence offenders a ‘death sentence’ for victims, says Cluney ex-partner

Ms Gilbert is doing a school-based apprenticeship through TAFE, completing a Certificate III Assistant in Nursing.

“I do one day a week at Narrandera Hospital, assisting the nurses who work there. I give the patients the extra care and attention they need so that the senior nurses can get on with their job.”

Region caught up with her to find out more about what she’s achieved, living in Narrandera and her goals.

What do you plan to do when you finish Year 12?

I want to go to Charles Sturt University in Wagga to study nursing. I’m very close to my family, so I’m choosing Wagga because it is only an hour away.

Will you go straight to uni or do a gap year?

I’m really into Aboriginal dancing, so I may do a traineeship in that first if I get that opportunity. I’m currently part of the Barradambang Dancers, which is the traditional Wiradjuri name for the wattle seed. I’d also love to do some travel.

What’s the best thing about living in Narrandera?

It’s such a small community. Everyone knows everyone. You feel like we are all one big family.

Tahlia and family

Tahlia with Richard Gilbert (dad), Amy Bolton (mum), Merran Bolton (nan), Emma Sergeant (auntie) and Basil Bolton (pop). Photo: Narrandera High School.

What job would like to do after university?

I want to become a registered nurse and then I’d like to be a nurse practitioner, which is just below a doctor; they can do scripts and x-rays. I’ve always had a compassionate side and love helping people.

READ ALSO Griffith electrician apprentice of the year finalist after acing exams

What was it like becoming school captain of Narrandera High?

My dad cried when I told him I’d become school captain; he was so proud. I was the first female Indigenous captain of the school ever.

Who are your role models?

Obviously, my parents; they wanted me to do my best and do what I love. Also, Mrs Judy Ing my career advisor and Laura Strano, my education and trainee support officer at the Murrumbidgee Local Health District. She’s always had so much support for me and made encouraging comments.

Do you have a life motto?

When I gave my speech after accepting the award, I finished by saying some Wiradjuri words. The translation sums it up.

Work hard, dream big, never give up.

About the awards

The NSW Training Awards celebrate the best of vocational education and training (VET) in NSW and are the premier VET awards in the state.

They are conducted annually by Training Services NSW within the NSW Department of Education to recognise outstanding achievement in the vocational education and training sector.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Riverina news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riverina stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.