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Tanya receives recognition for her dedication to nursing

Sunshine Coast local and nursing graduate Tanya Armstrong has been recognised for her commitment to achieving her career goals, with the dedicated 23-year-old awarded the title of 2021 Sunshine Coast Student of the Year.

Dedicated 23-year-old Tanya Armstrong was awarded the title of 2021 Sunshine Coast Student of the Year — an award that recognises academic achievement, motivation, teamwork, extra-curricular commitments and aspirations — during TAFE Queensland’s Sunshine Coast graduation ceremony in December.

Tanya said she felt proud just to have graduated, and that she was honoured to receive the accolade.

“It feels absolutely incredible to have graduated. I am overjoyed. Graduating has been something I have looked forward to for some time now. I am so pleased to have finally achieved this goal,” Tanya said.

“I wasn’t expecting it (the award) in the slightest, but I’m incredibly thankful. It feels amazing that my hard work has been recognised."

“I’m really proud of myself. It’s been a long journey, but I made some amazing friends and some amazing people, and I feel very privileged.”

Tanya began her journey to becoming a nurse in 2020, following in the footsteps of her mother. Having previously spent four years working as a personal carer, Tanya said she was always drawn to the idea of caring for others, so becoming an enrolled nurse was the next logical step.

“Growing up in that environment at home and hearing about how much my mum loves what she does both inspired and motivated me to become a nurse,” Tanya said.

“I have genuinely loved my time as a personal carer, but after around two-and-a-half years, I felt like I was stagnating in the industry and realised I wanted to increase my knowledge and further my skills.”

But it was her own experience within the healthcare system that triggered her decision to get started on taking her passion to the next level, after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at just 20-years-of-age.

“I experienced first-hand what a positive difference simple things such as a warm smile and friendly voice can have on someone when they in a truly terrifying and uncertain time in their life,” Tanya said.

“When I first enrolled, I wanted to become a nurse that specialises in MS, so that I could help others in a similar way to how I have been helped and continue to be helped along my own health journey. But that goal has changed and now I just want to be able to make a positive lasting difference to the people I care for, regardless of what specific position or role I have as a nurse."

“I genuinely believe that my attitude in life, mindset and energy are immensely more powerful than anything else that goes on in my life. After all, you can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how you look at those events and how they can shape your future.”

Tanya enrolled in TAFE Queensland’s Diploma of Nursing (HLT54115) on the advice of colleagues that she’d met during her time as a personal carer, and completed her studies at the Sunshine Coast Health Institute — a state-of-the-art training facility operated as a joint-venture partnership between Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service, TAFE Queensland, University of the Sunshine Coast (USC), and Griffith University.

“I heard so many amazing reviews about TAFE Queensland and loved how many flexible learning options were offered. TAFE Queensland seemed like an excellent option and ended up being the perfect choice for me,” Tanya said.

“There was a huge focus on the practical side of nursing, which really helped to support the theory I learned in class, and the teachers were absolutely fabulous. They were extremely knowledgeable, patient, and great at explaining things — I am so appreciative of their hard work and for the support I received from them.”

Since graduating in December 2021, Tanya has secured a full time position as an endorsed enrolled nurse at a local GP clinic.

“I am so incredibly excited to be starting my career as a practice nurse,” Tanya said.

“I can honestly say that finishing my diploma is one of the proudest things I have accomplished. I have learned so much about nursing and myself along this journey, and I can’t wait to put it all to good use.”

When asked what her advice is for others considering whether to enrol and pursue the career they’re passionate about, Tanya’s response was to not “let fear get in the way of their dreams”.

“There were many times I questioned whether I was doing the right thing studying nursing, especially considering my potentially uncertain future regarding my health. But I am so glad that I took the leap and completed what I set off to do," Tanya said.

“We each have one life to live, and it is up to each of us to make the most of it.”

TAFE Queensland’s Diploma of Nursing (HLT54115) recently topped the QTAC offers for school leavers in 2022, with Queenslanders looking to make the most of the 9.8 per cent increase in employment opportunities that the Department of Education, Skills and Employment are projecting for enrolled nurses over the next five years.