Having left his tropical island home to complete his high school studies in a Cairns boarding school, 837 kilometres away, Simon Naawi returned to Masig Island after graduation with the aim of undertaking further studies in business and management.
He got the ball rolling by enrolling in a Diploma of Business and a Diploma of Management with TAFE Queensland, which he completed via residential block studies.
“I received continuous support from my teachers and class mates; we all became really close, like a big family of likeminded people.”
And now Simon is preparing for his next step; completing a Bachelor of Business and Management at James Cook University.
“I never really thought that I was ever going to study at a university level, but about halfway through my course at TAFE Queensland I realised that I really wanted to continue learning,” he said.
“I’ve been able to gain credit toward my bachelor because of my studies at TAFE. The whole process has been pretty straight forward.”
As well as gaining invaluable business knowledge, Simon believes his studies have also strengthened his resolve to help others in his community to access education.
“I’ve made it my business to go back and provide mentoring support to new students,” he said.
“It’s made me feel good to give back knowing that I was once in a similar situation to them.”
"I truly believe that in order to achieve your goals, you need to take a step out of your comfort zone and chase your dreams."
It's a message Simon Naawi is now planting within his community.