TOP-CLASS EFFORT: Mayor Richie Williamson (left), Gold Award winner Kelly Ballard and MP Chris Gulaptis at the Grafton TAFE awards ceremony.
TOP-CLASS EFFORT: Mayor Richie Williamson (left), Gold Award winner Kelly Ballard and MP Chris Gulaptis at the Grafton TAFE awards ceremony.

Mum-student wins gold

GRAFTON TAFE students have been honoured for their outstanding achievements.

The Grafton TAFE Awards of Excellence were held at Grafton District Services Club on Monday.

The awards recognised the students' achievement for the 2013 academic year, with Community Services student Kelly Ballard taking out the major Grafton Campus Gold Award.

Mrs Ballard shared some of her experiences during her acceptance speech, describing her time at Grafton TAFE as "life changing".

"I came to TAFE as a devoted mum of four who was unemployed and whose last time studying was when I completed my Year 10 certificate many moons ago," said Mrs Ballard.

"Not only have I learnt the skills I need to work in industry, but it has also been a journey that has taught me a lot about myself.

"Trying to juggle TAFE, assessments, family and work is no easy feat. There were times I was ready to quit. But thanks to my amazing children, my wonderfully supportive family and classmates, the amazing support, flexibility and wisdom of our teachers Marg, Gaile, Trish and David, and my sheer determination to see it through I have completed my certificate IV and am now halfway through my diploma.

"I am going to be leaving TAFE as a devoted mum of four who is confident and feels a lot more connected to the Grafton community. I'm now working in a job that I love and furthering my education," said Mrs Ballard.

Trish Cahill, teacher of Community Services, praised Mrs Ballard's determination and highlighted her achievements in the workplace.

"As part of her certificate IV course, Kelly completed a 160-hour work placement at CRANES Community Support Programs with the Crisis Youth Housing service," Mrs Cahill said.

"Kelly's outstanding employability skills were quickly realised by staff and was consequently given responsibility for diploma-level involvement, and eventually offered casual employment before the end of her placement.

"That's really the best possible outcome for our students at TAFE - to find meaningful employment that they enjoy," Mrs Cahill said.

Acting head teacher of Community Services David Amos said Mrs Ballard's assessments and grades were "consistently exceptional".

"Throughout her study through her certificate IV and now into her diploma, Kelly has continuously produced a very high level of skill development, responsibility and hard work," said Mr Amos, "and her results clearly demonstrate this."

Mrs Ballard is now studying her Diploma in Community Services and is working on a Youth Homelessness Matters project she is co-ordinating with another student.



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