20 June 2024

Yenda educator gets scholarship, buys house and wins Trainee of the Year award in dream run

| Oliver Jacques
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Katie Carusi at primary school

Katie Carusi’s year keeps getting better. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Early childhood educator Katie Carusi, 22, has had a dream first half of the year.

She’s secured a $15,000 scholarship from Casella Family Wines, bought a house in Lake Wyangan and, most recently, been named Riverina Trainee of the Year – an annual NSW Government award that recognises outstanding achievement in the vocational sector.

Ms Carusi grew up in Yenda, graduated from Wade High School and did a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care at TAFE. She’s now doing a Bachelor of Education at Deakin University, studying remotely through the Griffith-based Country Universities Centre.

Region caught up with her to find out about her achievements, role models, goals, plans and how she managed to buy a house at such a young age.

How did you get the Trainee of the Year award?

I was a trainee at Dorothy Waide Centre For Early Learning up until July 2023. I now work here full-time. I was nominated for excellence in how I performed in my training. I got my traineeship done eight months early. I often had to study early in the morning and after work.

Katie with award

Katie Carusi receives her award. Photo: Supplied.

And the Casella Family Wines scholarship?

It’s offered for people in the Griffith and Yenda area. I applied through my university portal. I got it based on my leadership skills and the qualities I’ve shown in my workplace.

I get $15,000; it covers my course fees for by Bachelor of Education. That’s handy because I just bought a house.

How did you manage to buy a house at the age of 22 in such an expensive market?

It’s a three-bedroom house. It needs some renovations; that’s my next project. Mum, Dad and I will be working together on it.

Child care traineeships offer support so that you can buy a house with just a five per cent deposit.

I’ve always worked two or three jobs at a time, since I was 15. When I was young, I partied a lot, but when I was 18, I stopped and worked on my vision of where I want to be in 10 years.

Where do you want to be after completing uni?

I want to work for a primary school in a rural area. I’d love to give back to the community that supported me. I’d love to work at Yenda or Lake Wyangan.

I want to do inclusive teaching, for children who have special needs and getting the school system to include them.

As a swim teacher, I taught a girl who was non-verbal; our way of teaching her to be comfortable in the water was to sing to her.

I like being a part of a child’s journey and seeing how their personalities develop.

Have any role models helped you along the way?

Beth Hetherington, my co-room leader in Dorothy Waide, has really helped me with my writing.

Maddi Ramponi from Country Universities Centre has also been fabulous.

My mother did a similar path to me. She dropped out of school in Year 10 and did a heap of VET courses. All her experience led her to going to university at the age of 40. She showed you don’t have to do your best in high school to achieve something; it’s not the be all and end all.

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Would you recommend TAFE to those in high school?

I was never forced to go to university; I took this route and it’s been much better. I’m debt free, I can travel and I bought a house. It’s definitely a good way to go.

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.

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