Finalist: VET Teacher or Trainer of the Year
Employed by TAFE SA
After leaving school early due to illness – and unable to follow a previously planned pathway into university – Stuart took his first steps into Vocational Education and Training (VET), with the then 15-year-old moving to regional Western Australia to learn cooking at TAFE.
“Food was a way for me to show love and compassion for others, feeding and nourishing people, and putting my artistic interpretation on a plate,” says Stuart. “Without VET, I wouldn’t be who I am today, and I wouldn’t be in a position to see change and to shape the future of our industry.”
Now a lecturer with TAFE SA, Stuart says he proudly promotes VET and the careers and opportunities it opens to participants by introducing the concept of lifelong learning.
“I have been fortunate to win a scholarship to the University of Tasmania, for a Bachelor of Adult and Applied Learning. I was excited to be offered this opportunity, as it was an acknowledgement that TAFE SA valued me,” he says.
“Within industry, it is often hard to receive acknowledgement – a systemic issue I hope to change. Completing this degree will give me more opportunity to develop my knowledge and abilities.”
Stuart’s career aspirations grew through encouragement from his own TAFE lecturers, who supported him when he was ‘naive, unappreciative of what I had the fortune of studying, and not mature enough to know better’.
“My lecturers cared for my progression, supported me when I was nervous, and encouraged me to fix my mistakes – and they did so naturally. This instilled a nature and manner that I have carried through into my own career,” he says.
“If I can impact one student’s future career the way my lecturers shaped mine, I will be able to retire knowing I’ve done something worthy.”