December 5, 2013

I never realised this day would change my life forever!

By Jo Astorini

After having such a traumatic time at high school and flunking most subjects, achieving nothing higher than a D, a D+ if I was lukcy, I thought I was destined to become just a volunteer or the self-taught office girl who could never move ahead - just watching everyone around me move on in their careers.

I moved to the Kempsey area approximately 2 years ago looking for work. My 28 years of experience in administration meant nothing. Yep, I had the experience but not the piece of paper to prove it. The maximum skill requirement was Certificate III in Business Administration to even apply for any jobs being offered.

At this time, I was suffering mental health issues and as a result was at the rock bottom of my life.

As part of my mental health plan, it was suggested that I study something.

I thought to be a TAFE student you had to be a brain, so to speak, you know the studious type, top of the class, teacher's pet material, young and vibrant.

TAFE was way out of my league.

Well, how wrong was I?!

I literally dragged myself to Kempsey Campus and enquired about a course - any course. The admin girls in the office were just so helpful and friendly, full of information and encouragement when they directed me to the Business Faculty.

The teachers were so warm and friendly and made me feel so at ease. They not only encouraged me to enrol but assured me that I would be well suited to be a TAFE student even at my age and with my ongoing health issues.

I never realised this day would change my life forever!

In 18 months I have completed not only my Certificate II in Business Administration, but Certificates III and IV in Business Administration; Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and am currently enrolled in a Diploma in Business Administration.

Since gaining my Certificate IV in Business Administration, I am now working with not only my new found skills but with so much more confidence and efficiency and really enjoying my work life. I have gained part time work as an Administration Support Officer.

I soon found out and realised North Coast Institute of TAFE's Kempsey Campus was so much more than an educational campus. It was a network hub for support that I needed. I was new in town, not knowing anyone or anything. Kempsey TAFE staff had all the contacts, all the networks and services I required at the time.

The Kempsey Campus is unique in that it is a relatively small campus compared to others within the NCI TAFE. The Kempsey Campus family has taken me under their wings and supported me through all the blood, sweat and tears and let me tell you there have been plenty of them. The Kempsey Campus family has been nothing but supportive, compassionate and very flexible ensuring my completion of each certificate.

Last but not least the most important achievement that Kempsey Campus gave me was not an academic achievement, but a personal achievement. It gave me purpose again, a sense of belonging, new found friendships. Kempsey Campus not only changed my life, but saved it!

I would like to finish with this quote by Senator Doug Cameron which was emailed to me last weeks. It is my thoughts and personal experience exactly!

"The TAFE system should not be simply about business...TAFE is an absolute institution in this country. It started the lives, and saved the lives of many, many, many people, and we need to keep funding it. We can't simply be an economy; we've got to be a society."

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