Despite a rocky start to her schooling, Koorie grandmother Tracy Mollison embraced vocational education and training opportunities to be named the 2017 Victorian Training Awards Koorie Student of the Year.
Her career pathway hasn't been simple.
'I was sent to about 36 different schools because my parents were fruit pickers,' Tracy explains.
'I promised my children, when my youngest child started school, that mum would go back and get an education.'
Once all her children and grandchildren were either at school or had started working, Ms Mollison enrolled in Sunraysia Institute of TAFE for a Diploma of Horticulture while working as a gardener at Mildura Airport.
Tracy was in class when she saw a flyer promoting the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment course through the Dulka Yuppata Indigenous Training Centre at Sunraysia Institute of TAFE.
For a long time, Tracy has dreamed of becoming a Koorie Liaison Officer so she could support Koorie students achieve their education goals.
After thinking it over, Tracy decided to take the opportunity to change her course, sign up as a fulltime student and follow her dreams.
Tracy is currently employed as a participation assistant at Sunraysia Institute of TAFE in Mildura, where she supports diverse students to fulfil their education and life goals.
Tracy says her win is recognition that choosing another path in her career was the right thing to do.
'Education teaches not only success, it helps you overcome all your barriers,' Tracy says.
'Professionally, I can connect with more Koorie students and help them along their journey through their career pathways.'
'I am proud to represent all Koorie students of Victoria and, most of all, Koorie people in my community. Hopefully my story inspires people to follow their dreams and never give up.'
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2017 Victoria Training Awards
The 2017 Victoria Training Awards recognise and honour the outstanding achievements of vocational education and training students, teachers, training providers and employers across 15 award categories with winners sharing a total prize pool of $65,000.
The Koorie Student of the Year award recognises Koorie student excellence in the TAFE and vocational education sector who show lifelong learning for themselves and their community.
Nominations are open now for the 64th Victorian Training Awards. For more details, see Victorian Training Awards.
The Victorian Government's Marrung: Aboriginal Education Plan 2016-2026 includes actions to improve support for all Koorie learners undertaking further education and training. For more information, see Marrung.
Dulka Yuppata Indigenous Training Institute alumni Indi Clark also won the VTA Koorie Student of the Year winner in 2016. See: TAFE took Indi there.