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After returning to study for the first time in 22 years, Amanda Lewis completed a Diploma of Interior Design and Decoration (MSF50218) through TAFE Queensland in February 2019 and has since achieved amazing results.

Since graduating Amanda has taken home awards for the TAFE Queensland Graduate of the Year and the Design Institute of Australia’s Graduate of the Year.

“The awards have been the icing on the cake for what has been a wonderful twelve months for me,” Amanda said.

“I was very honoured to receive both awards and I hope to do them justice.”

Amanda’s teacher Kim McLeod has no doubt she will do justice to both awards and said Amanda was a dedicated student from the very first day.

“Amanda has an incredible drive to succeed, coupled with a strong passion for the design industry and this was evident form the first day she came into the course,” Kim said.

“Her work ethic, professionalism and the outstanding quality of her work is why she was nominated for both awards in the first place—the recognition is very well deserved.”

Amanda completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts at university straight out of high school, but with a mortgage already on her plate and an opportunity to take over a family business with her husband, she never worked in the field in which she had studied.

“We were very fortunate to be able to take over a much-loved family business and my husband and I have loved working together in our two hardware stores for the past 25 years,” Amanda said.

“More recently we have started to look at what might be next for us professionally in the coming years and it is exciting to contemplate a new career path.”

Keen renovators, Amanda and her husband Warwick have applied several times to be contestants on The Block.

It was during the application process that Amanda realised a career in interior design would allow her to really follow her passion.

“Having always loved renovating, and being mad fans of The Block, it occurred to me that a qualification in interior design would not only be a great thing to have under my belt should we ever make it onto the show, but I could have a whole new fabulous career,” Amanda said.

“I started looking into the courses that were on offer and TAFE Queensland’s one year, trimester Diploma of Interior Design and Decoration appealed to me the most.

“This course was highly regarded by industry, was only one-year full-time and involved only three long days at TAFE, leaving me free to continue working in our business on the other days.”

For those considering a return to study later in life, Amanda’s advice is to give it a go.

“If you are thinking about returning to study, then do it— thinking about it is half the battle to be honest.

“I found study much easier as a mature person, because at my age you aren’t afraid of hard work anymore and you are used to juggling many things at once—particularly when you are a mum, we mums know there is always time for something else!”

Amanda is already working in the industry; in a casual interior design role she was recommended for by her teachers.

“It just goes to show just how important industry connections are,” Amanda said.

“I am still working in our family business as well as building my interior design career on the side in a casual role, which is fantastic experience for me.

“My Design Institute of Australia award also pairs me with a mentor for 12 months, so I am looking forward to establishing that relationship and seeing what insights they can provide.

“In the long-term I’d love to work with one of the large interior design firms such as Flack Studio or Woods Bagot and of course, I am still trying out for The Block every season.”

 

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