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It's not just prestigious universities and the likes of NIDA
that can boast about their alumni – plenty of TAFE graduates have gone
on to glory.
Believe it or not, many of the people you see on TV or the front page
of the newspaper have trade qualifications. Paul Keating attended
Belmore and Sydney Technical Colleges for a couple of years after
leaving school at 15. Supermodel Jennifer Hawkins, champion rugby
league player Kurt Gidley, Michelin-starred chef Brett Graham and
Screaming Jets guitarist Grant Walmsley are all proud graduates of
Hunter TAFE in NSW. And mining magnate Nathan Tinkler qualified as an
electrician at nearby Muswellbrook TAFE. George Calombaris and Curtis
Stone are both proud products of Melbourne's Box Hill Institute of
TAFE, as is AFL player turned commentator Matthew Richardson.
Here are two inspiring tales of ambitious Australians who've used
what they learnt at TAFE as a springboard to fame and fortune.
Chris Cheney: After teaching himself to play guitar
at age six by listening to AC/DC tapes over and over again, Chris
Cheney studied jazz at Box Hill Institute of TAFE. Around the same
time, the band he was in, The Runaway Boys, went through some
personnel changes and morphed into The Living End. The band supported
Green Day on their Australian tour in 1996 then went on to be a
constant presence on the charts for the next decade and a half with
songs such "All Torn Down" and "Wake Up". The band
has toured around the world and Cheney, its main creative force, now
lives in Los Angeles.
Alex Perry: Life was anything but glamorous for Alex
Perry growing up. The son of working-class migrants who ran takeaway
shops, Perry got his big break when he was accepted into East Sydney
Technical College. From there he worked as a model's agent before
becoming, arguably, Australia's most famous fashion designer. The
likes of Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, Jennifer Lopez and Nelly
Furtado are fans of his clothes and he has appeared on TV shows such
as Australia's Next Top Model, Project Runway Australia, Celebrity
MasterChef and Talkin ‘Bout Your Generation.
The stellar careers of Cheney and Perry are proof that choosing a TAFE course that allows you
to pursue your passion can be the smartest investment you ever make.