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Adult tertiary preparation bridges the gap for Tace

While in high school Tace Stewart enjoyed solving math problems and helping her friends academically so much so that she knew that becoming a teacher was her calling.

Having decided that a career in education would be her future, she began to focus her studies on gaining entrance to university to study a Bachelor of Education.

“After chatting with my school counselor, they advised me to complete a childcare certificate instead of grade 12 to help get into university sooner. But while studying for the certificate, the requirements for university entry changed meaning I would have to start it again,” explained Tace.

Feeling discouraged, Tace decided to work part time after leaving school while studying for her business diploma, hoping it would help her apply to university.

However, despite having a sufficient rank the course required that Tace had Year 11 and 12 English and maths – something she didn’t have.

Determined to fulfil her life ambition of becoming a teacher, she enrolled to study a Certificate IV in Adult Tertiary Preparation (10765NAT), also known as ATP, to get the English and Maths units needed to enrol into a Bachelor of Education.

“I realised that ATP would get me on the path to the career I wanted, as I only needed to prove my proficiency in Year 11 and 12 English and Maths, and the ATP course would get me there in less than six months,” continued Tace.

"TAFE helped me immensely. At school I was more of a "Read and Regurgitate" learner, meaning I did not retain what I learned beyond exams. Especially in my pure maths unit at ATP, I learned how to study well, how to use patterns and rhymes to remember formulae, and how knowing the basics can help me learn the more complicated topics."

“I chose TAFE Queensland because I trust the name and I knew if I worked hard, I was guaranteed to get into university."

Tace credits her teachers for a lot of the success she found while studying.

“I thrived learning from Dr Kerryn Hayman. Her passion took my fear of mathematics away, and she furthered my interest in pre-calculus and calculus, so much that I developed a passion for it.”

“If I ever needed anything my teachers were only an email away and helped in any way they could. Their only goal was to help their students succeed and for that, I am very grateful.”

“I also developed valuable organisational skills that I used to maximise my time to learn a new topic, how to use the maths textbook and how to learn exactly what I need – which has helped me in other areas of my life.”

Also helping Tace to get the academic rank she required to enrol at university was her classmates and the facilities which provided the motivation and environment to excel in her studies.

“My classmates and I all came from different backgrounds, we studied together, helped each other fill in the gaps we were missing, and excelled together. We mainly used the library which was a quiet space for us to focus and learn. The group study rooms were where my friends and I had many epiphanies!”

After graduating, Tace was able to enrol in Bachelor of Education – but because of her inspirational teachers and her positive studying experience with TAFE Queensland, she switched to a Bachelor of Mathematics.

“I studied a unit Introduction to Operations Research, and my lecturer was a mathematician in ecology. As I used my calculus skills to complete the unit, I realised that I had an even bigger passion for using mathematics to inform decisions in the ecology space.”

Tace is now working hard to become a researcher, using maths to solve the environmental challenges that Australia faces.

“Now, I am studying for a Master of Philosophy degree, backed by a scholarship. My project is on the impacts of cumulative and compounding disturbances on coral in the Great Barrier Reef, and how we can increase coral's resilience through marine protection.”

“The maths, English, and study skills that I learned during my time at TAFE helped me become a good university student and reach success. If I hadn't done the ATP Pure Maths unit in particular, I may have struggled in the first year maths units at university and become discouraged. I am really grateful for my time at TAFE.”

“In 5 years' time, I should be just about finishing a PhD, probably with a focus on mathematics in ecology. In 10 years' time, I hope to be lecturing at university and supervising students on more cool projects in mathematics and ecology.”