Paige Arbuckle knew she'd graduate from TAFE Queensland with industry ready skills, but what she didn't expect was how profoundly the learning experience would impact her personal growth.

Following the birth of her daughter, Paige decided to knuckle down and focus on her career.

"I moved back to Australia from New Zealand and I knew I needed more of a career plan," Paige said.

"My daughter was my purpose and she motivated me to push forward with study and look for opportunities."

"I initially wanted to study human resources, but after receiving some guidance from TAFE Queensland I enrolled in both a Diploma of Business (BSB50215) and a Diploma of Leadership and Management (BSB51918)"

Twenty-five-year-old Paige admits she had some trepidation about hitting the books again.

"After high school I started working, so it was daunting returning to study after a six year gap."

"I’m a single parent with a toddler, so I am very busy. I thought juggling home life with study would be overwhelming, but it turned out to be easier than I expected."

"TAFE Queensland offered me great flexibility. I did have set class days, but if my daughter was sick I had the option to stay at home with her and use Connect to participate online in the learning," she continued.

"The support network was definitely there; everyone I encountered at TAFE Queensland was really positive and encouraging."

Paige said pouring herself into her coursework taught her valuable lessons about herself.

"My studies at TAFE Queensland have 100 per cent helped to improve my confidence. For example, being able to stand up and talk in front of people is something I have struggled with in my life, but I'm much better at it now. I also never used to back myself up a lot and now I do."

"This course has not only developed my professional skills, but it has provided me with so much personal development and growth. Whatever I choose to do in life moving forward I now have the belief that with hard work and determination my goals are attainable."

Paige's commitment to her studies earned her the 2019 Ailsa Tobiano Award at the Cairns Graduation. The accolade is presented to an outstanding business student who embodies the qualities of former business teacher Ailsa Tobiano, who taught and mentored students for more than 20 years before her retirement.

Paige said the award was a nice way to cap off a year of hard work.

"I was incredibly happy when I found out about the award, it's really lovely to be recognised."

Paige said her studies at TAFE Queensland opened up new doors.

"I was able to complete work experience with a State Government department and it opened my eyes to what is out there and the work opportunities available to me."

"Through my work experience I was able to attend an education conference and my name tag said 'TAFE Queensland student' which turned out to be a real conversation starter," she continued.

"People know TAFE Queensland, it has a good reputation. Everyone I spoke to about my course knew the units, the learning involved and what skills I'd come out with. It was great validation to know people in industry valued the course I was studying."

Following her work experience, Paige secured employment in the education sector.

"I am most definitely applying the knowledge and skills I have learnt in my dual diploma to my new job."

"I am building meaningful and positive relationships with clients and colleagues because of the emotional intelligence and effective communication skills that I learned at TAFE Queensland."

TAFE Queensland business teacher Jenny Bartholomew never had any doubts that Paige would thrive outside of the classroom.

"Paige is a highly motivated young woman who is very passionate about the business industry," Jenny said.

"Paige capitalised on every opportunity to learn as much as possible about all aspects of the industry, and she has at all times demonstrated her incredible potential to succeed."

Paige said it was great to learn the ropes from a dedicated teacher.

"Jenny has been amazing. What she brings into the classroom is really relevant and she’s so passionate about the industry."

"Jenny's enthusiasm has definitely lit a fire in my belly to get out there and do well in industry."

Paige said anyone considering hitting the books again should not hesitate.

"Returning to study was a little scary at first, but you get passed it."

"Look to the future and the big picture to find your purpose. Whether that’s providing for your growing child or getting that qualification to pursue your dream job, just take the plunge!"

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