Danielle’s once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

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Bathurst’s Danielle Girard is about to embark on an exciting adventure after accepting a once-in-a-lifetime position as lecturer in Clinical Exercise Physiology at the University of South Australia (UniSA).

This dream result is the culmination of more than 15 years hard work for Danielle, who credits a lot of her success to TAFE Western, where she has spent time not only studying, but teaching over the past two decades.

“I began studying at TAFE Western in 2000, just after finishing my HSC in 1999,” Danielle said. “I was still quite young (17) and really didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. My mother suggested that maybe the Diploma in Fitness at Bathurst College would be suitable to fill in some time until I was older and hopefully had a clearer idea of what I wanted to do for employment.

“From an early age I had a keen interest in exercise, nutrition and how the body worked, so the course seemed to align well with my interests.”

From 2000-2002 Danielle undertook her fitness studies at TAFE Western. Six months into her course she gained employment at a community based fitness centre in Katoomba, a position she still holds to this day.

“This was really beneficial to me – being able to not only study for the industry but to be able to work in the industry,” she said.

“I’ve continued working at the fitness centre in Katoomba for the last 15 years, where I am currently working as a part-time fitness supervisor and have previously held roles including fitness team leader, group exercise instructor and personal trainer.”

In 2002, Danielle graduated from her Diploma with distinction and was awarded Outstanding Graduating Student Award for the Personal and Community Services Category and the City Fit Award which was presented to the most deserving student in Health, Recreation and Fitness at TAFE Western.

“I then commenced working as a part-time TAFE Western teacher in Certificate III, IV and Diploma in Fitness in 2010,” Danielle said.

“I had been working as a sessional tutor at CSU where I taught the undergraduate Exercise Science courses the year prior (2009) while I was completing my Honours Degree.”

Danielle is now in the final stages of completing a Doctorate in Philosophy (PhD) at Charles Sturt University, before she will move to South Australia in early 2016 to take up her role at the University of South Australia.

“I’m definitely excited but it’s also really daunting,” Danielle said. “The decision to accept this position was a very difficult one for me to make.

“My support network (family and friends) are located in Katoomba and Bathurst, so it will be challenging for me to be moving so far away.

“It will hopefully be a great career opportunity for me both for teaching and research experience. The research facilities at UniSA are fantastic and I’m looking forward to being involved in some larger scaled research projects in the area of exercise and chronic disease management.”

What makes Danielle’s achievements all the more special is the fact she was diagnosed with dyslexia at eight years of age.

“I really didn’t enjoy my experience at high school,” Danielle said. “I felt like I didn’t fit in and really struggled to learn. Looking back I realise that I felt frustrated at having large class sizes (25 students) and there wasn’t any remedial type therapies or support being offered to me.

“Over time I’ve recognised that it takes me a lot longer than most people to read and interpret text and the TAFE setting was much more suitable for me.

“I would certainly contribute some of my professional success to my study at TAFE Western.

“I was a very shy teenager and uncertain of myself and where I was going in life. I have been very fortunate to have a found something that I am really passionate about and have been able to turn into a career.

“The skills that I learnt and the success I have had during my studies have provided me with life-long skills and helped me develop the confidence that I now have, which has helped me get where I am today career-wise.”

Under changes to Smart and Skilled, courses at TAFE Western in 2016 will be fee-free for people with a diagnosed disability.

“There’s never been a better time than now to enrol with TAFE Western,” Institute Director Kate Baxter said.

For information about TAFE Western’s huge range of courses, advice or enrolments, visit www.tafewestern.edu.au or phone 1300 823 393.