A TAFE success story

As teachers, we are proud of all our students – current and former – and we celebrate their victories

One of the greatest things about being a teacher is when a former student really shines. There's a feeling of pride and accomplishment for their achievement. The knowledge that they're doing great, and maybe you had a small part in that, maybe you helped them achieve their goals, is a wonderful fulfilling feeling. I'd like to share with you a TAFE success story about one of my former students.

Kirsty Butler graduated from Miller College (SWSi TAFE) with a Diploma of Library Information Services.  I taught Kirsty some units in web design, as our program included an introduction in modifying a webpage, a skill we thought Library Technicians might find handy. I remember Kirsty as a real go-getter in class; she definitely had ambition.

I was proud to read that earlier this year she was one of the speakers at the ALIA National Conference in Melbourne.  ALIA – the Australian Library and Information Association – is the national professional organisation for library and information professionals.  I was able to catch up with Kirsty and interview her to try to find out more about the conference, her talk, and how she's doing.

SH: You recently spoke at the ALIA National Conference.  What was this national conference about?

KB: This year's conference focused on the theme that ‘together we are stronger' with the core ideas of collaboration, capabilities and content.

SH: How involved are you with ALIA?

KB: I became a member of ALIA in 2011 and have been involved actively since 2013, when I joined the committee of ALIA Sydney, who are a volunteer group of information and library professionals who host inexpensive professional development events for people working and studying in the industry.

This year, I became an ALIA Sydney co-convenor and along with a colleague we facilitated a day-long workshop, in which I also presented, for the ALIA National Conference. I am also part of an organising committee for a three day symposium focusing on new library graduates (NLS7) to be held next year.

SH: What was your talk about?

KB: My session was a 45 minute workshop on networking skills to a group of 30 participants. I focused on the practical skills (both online and face-to-face) in connecting with people and challenging the participants to put the lessons into action throughout the conference.

SH: What was it like to be chosen to speak? And what was it like to address the conference? 

KB: I was terrified! To be asked to speak at an event of this nature is a huge honour. And while I'm fairly confident at public speaking, it was the first time I had done anything like this. Writing my session was incredibly difficult but once I got up and started speaking I grew more comfortable. I was lucky enough to have a great group of people in attendance who were all willing to share and join in.

SH: Did your experiences at TAFE contribute to your successes?

KB: TAFE was one of the first places to provide me with the opportunity to speak and share my experiences. It has helped me to gain practical skills that I use in my job every day. And most importantly, TAFE helped me figure out what I wanted to do in my professional life.

SH: What advice would you give current TAFE students?

KB: My advice is simple. Get involved. Join things! When invited or asked to something new, say yes. After all, what's the worst that can happen? The first ever conference I attended is still my favourite and the reason for it was its theme, "Be bold, be brave". It's a message I think everyone should take to heart in both their professional and personal lives.

SH: What's next for Kirsty Butler?  What is your next big thing?

KB: There's a few things; I have just started a new job at the University of NSW Library.  Plus next year will be my second term as co-convenor for ALIA Sydney.  And I mentioned earlier I'm on the organising committee for NLS7, which will be held in July next year in Sydney.  And I have been invited to chair a stream at the next big ALIA Conference Information Online, which will be held in February.

After all that, I'll be in the perfect position to take over the (library) world!!!


I'm glad I got the opportunity to catch up with Kirsty.  Often as teachers we don't get to see the success stories of our students; with her work and accomplishments at ALIA, Kirsty has made us very proud at SWSi.

As teachers, we are proud of all our students – current and former – and we celebrate their victories.  We know there are great things still to come from all our TAFE graduates.  I hope Kirsty's story has inspired you, and you'll be bold and be brave yourself.