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Back to basics: Nanette's life-changing experience at TAFE NSW Finley


Back to basics: Nanette's life-changing experience at TAFE NSW Finley

5 February, 2019

From being paralysed by fear on her first day of class to being crowned Student of the Year, Nanette Hopper is a shining example of how TAFE NSW transforms lives.

It was just days after her 50th birthday in 2017 that Ms Hopper took a leap of faith and enrolled in a Certificate I in Preparation for Work and Training at TAFE NSW Finley.

Since her early 20s, Ms Hopper had battled crushing depression and anxiety, and the prospect of going “back to school” filled her with trepidation.

“That first day I drove into the TAFE NSW gates, I remember being so petrified I wanted to turn around,” Ms Hopper said. “I couldn’t look anyone in the eye, I couldn’t say hello to anyone. I found a chair in the classroom right next to the door so I could escape easily.

“But deep down I knew I had to prove something to myself; I couldn’t run away, I had to get through my first day.”

After those first tentative steps, Ms Hopper slowly found her stride thanks to a supportive learning environment.

“The teachers were so supportive and every week after class, they would sit me down and ask if I was coping ok,” Ms Hopper said. “I started the year with no self-confidence and by the end of the year, I was helping other students. It was a huge 180. My spelling, computer skills and public speaking skills just sky-rocketed.”

Ms Hopper was rewarded for her efforts by winning the 2017 Student of the Year for TAFE NSW Finley, an honour she described as one of the highlights of her life.

TAFE NSW Head Teacher of Career Pathways Leonie Francis, who taught Ms Hopper, said seeing students build confidence and employability skills was an “intensely satisfying” part of the job.

“Nanette had this surge of immense personal growth and confidence in herself, it was wonderful and it’s something I see a lot,” Ms Francis said. “She even took on a mentoring role with other students by the end. It’s all down to creating a supportive learning environment and giving students the personal attention they need.”

Ms Francis said the Certificate I in Preparation for Work and Training and the Certificate II in Career Preparation were both being offered for semester one at TAFE NSW Finley.

“These courses really appeal to people looking for a second chance at education and those wanting to build up their foundational skills before they embark on another vocational study area,” she said.

To find out more about studying pathways courses at TAFE NSW, phone 13 16 01 or visit

Media contact: Daniel Johns, TAFE NSW Media and Communications – Business Partner, 6938 1441, mobile 0477 722 428.