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TAFE NSW graduate turned astrobiologist says career success is all in the stars


TAFE NSW graduate turned astrobiologist says career success is all in the stars

TAFE NSW graduate turned astrobiologist Dr Bonnie Teece is urging all those with higher education aspirations to consider studying their HSC at TAFE NSW.

According to a report by the National Skills Commission[1], people with post school qualifications generally have better employment outcomes than those who have not completed further education after leaving school. In 2019, the median weekly earnings for an employee with a certificate III or IV was $1,150 while the median weekly earnings for an employee with no post-school qualification was $820.

Inner West local Dr Teece left school in year 11 in order to work full time, but knew that she wanted to one day finish her HSC so that she could enter university.

“Although I was working, I knew that I wanted to eventually go to university, so I chose to study at TAFE NSW because it was flexible with work, and allowed me to have agency and autonomy over my own education,” Dr Teece said.

“I had to learn how to be an adult learner although I was only 17, and I had to take responsibility for myself and learn how to find and understand information myself. I think it was these skills that enabled me to be successful at university when I attended because I did not have those skills before TAFE.”

The HSC at TAFE NSW can be undertaken at any time as an alternative to the HSC at school. The course takes place over two years and students graduate with an ATAR.

“When I was studying the HSC at TAFE NSW I was 17 and working at McDonald's. Now, I have just completed my PhD at UNSW and been awarded a Doctorate in Science,” Dr Teece said.

“My job now is to study Astrobiology, which is the field of looking for life elsewhere (like Mars), and understanding the origin of life, and evolution of life on the Early Earth.”

TAFE NSW Educational Pathways Head Teacher Melissa Knudson said the HSC at TAFE NSW was appealing to students who want to complete their HSC on their own terms in order to receive an ATAR and pursue tertiary education.  

“Students come to us to complete their HSC for a myriad of reasons. They may have left school early before finishing their final years due to personal reasons or are keen to improve their previous HSC results and gain entry to their university course of choice,” Ms Knudson said.

“The HSC at TAFE NSW introduces students to an adult learning environment where they are encouraged to take control of their studies in order to prepare them for further tertiary study. Graduates gain increased confidence in their abilities and a strong educational foundation that will serve them for the rest of their lives.”  

During her PhD, Dr Teece’s research was presented as part of the evidence arguing for one of the final four candidate landing sites for where NASA should send the Perseverance rover. Dr Teece is now sharing her wisdom to inspire young people to seek out a career in the stars, teaching Science Communication and Astrobiology at UNSW, and has co-founded an education and outreach initiative called Praxical.

Dr Teece is now sharing her wisdom at a workshop presented by Powerhouse and TAFE NSW. Creative Studio: Powerhouse + Space is a series of free hands-on workshops combining science, arts and play for children aged 4–12 and their families.

She’s so passionate about the way TAFE NSW kick started her passion for learning and ultimate career trajectory, her father has now joined TAFE NSW to study for the first time in over 30 years.

“My dad is completing a Certificate III in Horticulture at TAFE NSW Richmond and says that he would not be studying without my encouragement and positive experience.”

To learn more about the HSC and other Tertiary Preparation pathways available at TAFE NSW head to or phone 131 601.   

Media contact: Alice Dalley, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist,, mobile 0402 528 210.