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Newcastle’s TAFE NSW higher ed graduates win big

TAFE NSW Newcastle and Glendale

Newcastle’s TAFE NSW higher ed graduates win big

25 local TAFE NSW students yesterday joined over 200 other degree graduates from across the state at the Higher Education Graduation Ceremony at TAFE NSW Ultimo.

Four of our students won prestigious awards at the event, in a group of only 20 award-winners. They accepted these in front of an audience of 200 people, including TAFE NSW Managing Director Dr Caralee McLiesh.

Jessica Heemskerk from Holmesville, a Diploma of Applied Commerce graduate from TAFE NSW Newcastle and previous Bean Counters Scholarship winner, won the Managing Director’s Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement for her course. So too did Alex Townsend from Eleebana, an Associate Degree of Applied Engineering (Renewable Energy Technologies) graduate from TAFE NSW Newcastle.

Tingira Heights resident Jadine Penhall, a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education and Care (Birth-5) graduate from TAFE NSW Glendale, won the TAFE NSW Higher Education Award for Outstanding Student for her course. So too did Bradley Scott, who moved from the Mid North Coast to Newcastle to study the Associate Degree of Applied Engineering (Renewable Energy Technologies) course.

Jadine said,“I am super grateful for all the help and support TAFE NSW provided. I came from a background that statistically would lead me to never achieve anything in my life. Through stubbornness, determination and a rebellious attitude to societal expectations, I worked hard and achieved a qualification I am proud of. I am so thankful to my teachers and fellow students - they reignited my self-confidence and a passion for learning, and gave me the tools to not only recognise my intelligence but be proud of it, and use it to help and guide others.

“I am hoping to specialise in art therapy, maybe do my Masters in that, and then provide support for educators in childcare centres on integrating arts and creativity into their activities.”

Bradley said, “As a species we need to evolve our environmental practices, otherwise we perish. The average Australian is finding affording electricity and so on challenging despite us having an abundance of resources we don’t harness. That is where engineers come in – we solve problems.”

"Now I have finished my TAFE NSW studies I am completing my Bachelor studies at university and then plan to specialise in chemical engineering, specifically in biomass for Newcastle region. Put simply, it’s about working with our region’s plant materials and exploring how to extract the energy out of them... the breakdown of those products into alternate products that can be harnessed for energy.”

Jessica said, “I completed a Certificate IV in Accounting in the first half of 2017, having already completed a Certificate IV in Small Business Management, and I really enjoyed that so I decided to do the Diploma of Applied Commerce to further my interest in finance.”

“I’d originally completed a Bachelor of Science but decided against that career. My sister went to TAFE NSW and raved of how it offered more hands-on learning and I found this too. Although there was plenty of theoretical it definitely provided more practical learning experiences. I really like the workshopping, there was much greater class discussion. Now I’ll see how I go with my first year back at uni and make plans from there.

TAFE NSW Regional General Manager, Susie George, commended the graduates on their commitment and dedication to studying a degree at TAFE NSW, which has equipped them with the practical skills and work experience they need to pursue their chosen career.

“I am delighted to have attended the ceremony yesterday and personally wish our graduates every success as they pursue their professional careers,” Ms George said.

“TAFE NSW now offers 1,200-plus courses, diplomas and degrees, many of which are available to study on our doorstep or online. This continually evolves to meet the Hunter region’s ever-changing training and education needs, and those of the national and global workforce. Our finger is on the pulse of employment opportunities.

“Recent TAFE NSW research shows prospects across the NSW central coast to north coast lie especially within the Health, Wellbeing and Community Services, and Infrastructure, Energy and Construction, sectors. These have the largest and second largest forecasted increase in employment to 2021, accounting for a 19.8% and 19.6% share of employment respectively. The Technology and Business Services sector comes in third at 19.2%.

“Interestingly, these findings align perfectly with our current local TAFE NSW higher education offerings.”

For more information on studying a higher education course at TAFE NSW, visit or call 131 601.