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Despite living with a condition that leaves her crippled with pain,
Athena Whithnall can’t wipe the smile off her face.
The 19-year-old from Kanahooka has gone from leaving school
unfinished and facing uncertain future, to gaining an ATAR equivalent
of 98 at TAFE NSW Wollongong. She is beaming.
She was forced to leave school in year 11 to establish a health
management plan to cope with the symptoms of fibromyalgia; pain over
much of her body, sleep problems, headaches, fatigue and anxiety.
It took about two years to establish a plan to a point where she
could live day-to-day without pain.
Once her conditions were under better control she decided to find a
way to catch up and complete her high school qualifications, in the
hope of gaining entry into university.
“Once I had a stable health plan I was keen to get straight back to
study with a goal of enrolling in linguistics.
“I had missed my HSC and was looking for options online, that’s how I
came across the Certificate IV in Tertiary Preparation (TPC) at TAFE
NSW, which sounded perfect for me.”
The TPC is a year 12 equivalent qualification available to study
full-time, part-time or online through TAFE Digital.
Athena said the teachers supported her through the course but she
worked hard to earn her marks.
“To receive high marks has been good for my confidence and my
happiness. It’s good for me to know I can push through my health
issues to achieve goals.
“I remember getting my mathematics result and it was 98 per cent, it
was such a relief. It’s not just about studying each subject we were
also taught skills to use in further study.”
In providing Athena with the knowledge and practical experience she
needed to successfully apply for tertiary study, the TPC also provided
a one-year shortcut to university.
“My raw marks were so good I received a university offer before my
scaled marks were in.”
Athena said she had talked her sister into enrolling in the TPC.
“For students who don’t do well in the HSC and want a higher mark,
TAFE NSW is the one place where you’re going to find teachers who can
tailor the learning around how you think.”
The TPC is offered at TAFE NSW across the state and online through
TAFE Digital. For more information phone 13 16 01 or visit www.tafensw.edu.au.
Media contact: Adam Wright, TAFE NSW Media Officer, 4421 9895,
mobile 0466 375 552.