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Sutherland Shire students top TAFE NSW awards

Sutherland Shire students top TAFE NSW awards

Three TAFE NSW students from the Sutherland Shire have been recognised for their academic achievements and positive work ethic at the TAFE NSW Excellence Awards in Ryde yesterday.

Eliza Urey from Menai, Christopher Russo from Miranda and TAFE Digital student Verity Smith from Engadine were all announced as the winners at a gala awards ceremony held at TAFE NSW Ryde.

Eliza Urey, completed a Certificate IV in Business Administration at TAFE NSW Gymea, and was announced as Trainee of the Year. Christopher Russo, completed a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery at TAFE NSW Loftus, and was announced as winner of the Apprentice of the Year. TAFE Digital student, Verity Smith completed a Diploma of Landscape Design and was announced as winner of the Agribusiness Student of the Year.

TAFE NSW Regional General Manager, Alison Wood, commended the winners for the commitment and dedication they have shown to their studies.

“These awards recognise our most passionate, industrious and skillful students, and demonstrates the commitment of TAFE NSW to train the workforce leaders of the future when, where and how it suits them,” Ms Wood said.

“We are confident that the exciting learning opportunities we created for these winners helped them to develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in their career.

“TAFE NSW is proud to equip our students with practical skills and work experience so they’re ready to hit the ground running in their chosen field.

“It’s incredibly rewarding for TAFE NSW teachers to watch students like Eliza, Christopher and Verity grow in the knowledge that the skills and talents they learn with us have the potential to transform their lives,” Ms Wood concluded.

Eliza is exceptionally motivated and an articulate young women who possesses outstanding communication and interpersonal skills while displaying a high level of initiative and maturity well beyond her years. Eliza was the youngest in her class, but was always willing to assist her peers with any questions or issues. Eliza has successfully completed two Business Administration Traineeships in less than 12 months whilst securing a scholarship to undertake a combined Advanced Diploma of Event Management and Advanced Diploma of Hospitality Management at TAFE NSW.

“I have gained important knowledge about the business administration industry through my studies at TAFE NSW. My teachers have given me real life examples and tips on how to prepare for an interview and writing a resume. If I was to speak to anyone who was thinking about studying at TAFE NSW, I would highly recommend it. The teachers really care about every student and want to see you succeed,” said Ms Urey.

Christopher’s next step in his TAFE NSW journey is to study Patisserie so he can open up his own catering business in the future. Currently employed as an apprentice at, Café Sydney, Christopher has had the opportunity to demonstrate his unique food preparation skills during his time competing in WorldSkills Australia in 2017.

“My time at TAFE NSW has been a very interesting, exciting and productive one. My teachers are dedicated professionals who walk the extra mile to nourish me with the skills and finesse in the gastronomic world. I’ve been fortunate enough to work in different sections of the kitchen during my time at Café Sydney to gain the maximum culinary knowledge for my betterment. I’m looking forward to what the future holds for me in the hospitality space,” said Mr Russo.

Over the last 12 years, Verity has been actively involved in the establishment and running of an international not-for-profit that provides health and education services to communities in rural Western Kenya. As a result of studying the Diploma of Landscape Design with TAFE Digital, she now has the knowledge to turn two acres of the land at the school into a permaculture food forest and education hub, empowering the local community towards food security in what is otherwise a highly climactically variable area of subsistence farming. 

“Studying Landscape Design via TAFE Digital has provided me with a huge benefit in re-entering the workforce. The Diploma has equipped me with the knowledge I need to be a competent and creative designer, while giving me the skills required to professionally, effectively and ethically run a commercial business. I was able to upskill around raising young children and paid employment, and also had the opportunity to change careers – an opportunity I would otherwise not have had at this stage in my life,” said Ms Snaith.

TAFE Digital General Manager, Megan Aitken said, “I have no doubt these students will go on to forge highly successful careers and will be wonderful ambassadors for online learning and TAFE NSW. As a TAFE Digital student, our students all study online, at a time convenient to them, through their mobile or laptop, anytime during the day. Students can access teacher support or complete the studies on their own, at their own pace, which gives them great flexibility in their training and education.”

Media contact: Laura Kelly, Media and Communications Business Partner,, mobile: 0411 777 676