Patricia, who is the mother of six children and works at the Mitchell Childcare Centre in Bathurst, completed the Diploma of Children's Services by flexible delivery at Orange TAFE College in 2009.
Patricia left school when she was 14 and started her working life as a sales assistant followed by apprenticeship as a pastry cook. Patricia said that, "after the birth of my fifth child, I was working as a private day care mum for twins until they started school. This started me thinking about my own future career."
"I couldn't read or write well and decided to do something about it. I enrolled in the Certificate in General Education for Adults and completed a computer course before enrolling in the Certificate III in Children's Services in Bathurst," she said.
Towards the end of her Certificate III studies she received distinctions for most of her subjects and decided to undertake some voluntary work at a local child care centre to gain some practical experiences in the industry.
"I struggled with my extended writing so on top of TAFE I also received tutoring to help me with this task. It was very demanding and meant I had to learn to balance my time as my husband and I were expecting our sixth child," she said.
"My work colleagues and TAFE teachers were so helpful and supportive and catered for my needs along the way. I was given further support and everybody was willing to give up their time to help. I will always be grateful to them for this life changing moment."
Patricia was nominated by her teacher, Kay Adams who said, "It had always been a lifelong dream of Patricia's to become an Early Child Educator. Being a mother of six children, she had the difficult task of balancing family and full time work around her studies but nevertheless she was able to achieve good marks and attendance of weekend workshops."
TAFE Western Institute Director, Kate Baxter said, "it has been a special privilege to have met each of the outstanding students, listen to their stories and be involved in choosing a winner."
"Congratulations to all the winners and thank you for the contributions you have made to our Colleges and your fellow students. I also thank our teachers who have made TAFE special for these graduates and who have gone out of their way to bring recognition to their most deserving graduates."
The Outstanding Graduating Student Awards have been running for 17 years and represent TAFE Western's most prestigious recognition of student success. The awards incorporate an appreciation of many factors including adversity, community contribution, excellence, leadership and dedication.