Student Awards

2017 Academic Excellence: Vocational Education Training Awards

The 2017 award winners in the vocational education and training (VET) category have used their studies to follow their dreams, develop job-ready skills and achieve great success as they launch into their new careers. We invited them to share their stories.

Winner: Trien Tran from Vietnam

Studying: Diploma of Software Development at TAFE SA

A new app to help save lives

Trien dreamed of becoming a software developer since he was a child, and he chose Adelaide as the place to achieve that dream.

Though Trien has faced challenges along the way, he is dedicated to achieving his qualification. Because he has a significant goal in mind for his new-found software developer skills – developing an app that he hopes will save lives.

What’s your app about and what inspired it?

The app I’m working on in my final semester will connect organ donors with patients and doctors, to give sick people a higher chance to live.

I was inspired by an article about a 20-year-old man who died in a car accident. He donated his organs and tissue, saving the lives of eight very sick people. This really touched me, so I registered myself as an organ donor in Vietnam and Australia.

I also started a Facebook page in Vietnam to raise public awareness about organ donation and show people how to register. Now, we are working on the app which we hope to launch soon.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in your studies?

Because I had already completed a degree in another field and was 26 years old, many people advised me not to pursue a new career. But I did it anyway, and I know I made the right decision.

My father has faced some serious health issues while I’ve been away, which has made it hard to focus. But, I know he wants me to succeed, so I keep going with his encouragement which helped me to achieve a Distinction for all subjects last semester.

Describe what receiving this award means to you

It’s such an honour. I wasn’t going to apply as I didn’t think I would be qualified enough, but my friends and the TAFE SA team encouraged me to try.

Receiving this award gives me more confidence, and I am sure it will be an advantage when I am applying for internships and work in the future.

What’s next for you?

After I finish my Diploma of Software Development, I’d like to study for a Bachelor of Information Technology (Mobile Application Development) at the University of South Australia (UniSA).

What’s your favourite thing about living in Adelaide?

I love the beaches and the outdoor lifestyle. Semaphore Beach is my favourite. I like to feed the seagulls and walk along the jetty.

Highly Commended: Chia-Hao Lee from Taiwan

Studying: Certificate III in Commercial Cookery at TAFE SA

After five years working as an accountant in Taiwan, Chia-Hao moved to Adelaide to follow his dream of becoming a fine-dining chef so he can bring enjoyment and excitement to everyday life.

While it’s been a challenge to make such a dramatic career change, Ching-Hao’s hard work and determination to present the perfect dish is inspiring. Although he misses his family, Ching-Hao says, ‘when you’re in school for something you’re passionate about, it’s much easier to learn.’

Aside from loving the weather and lifestyle in Adelaide, he particularly likes is the South Australian Public Library Network. The number of libraries in Adelaide surprised him and they have been a fantastic resource for his studies.

Ching-Hao will complete his studies at the end of 2017 and hopes to continue further study next year. He is already applying his skills through his work as a junior chef at the Botanic Gardens Restaurant.

Highly Commended: Oscar Freire Arrais from Brazil

Studying: Advanced Diploma of Interior Design at TAFE SA

After almost three years studying IT engineering, Oscar realised that his true passion was in the field of design. Following his dream, he switched paths and Oscar was rewarded with a scholarship to study English and architecture at the University of Adelaide.

After completing his scholarship, Oscar returned to Brazil, but it wasn’t long before the call of Adelaide brought him back to study interior design at TAFE SA, where he loved the hands-on nature of the course.

Without scholarship assistance, Oscar had to work to pay for his studies and living expenses, but says this challenge made him feel, ‘more independent and in control of my life.’ Graduating with Advanced Diploma in Interior Design made his hard work worthwhile.

Oscar loves helping people realise their dreams through beautiful and functional design. He particularly enjoys working in commercial spaces like cafes, hotels, shops and showrooms.

He hopes to pursue his career here in Adelaide, so his love of design and life in Australia can continue.

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