Queensland Training Awards Apprentice of the Year finalist Terease has been on an inspiring journey. The mature-age apprentice from Warwick has gone from suburban office worker to tool belt wearing country electrician.

Terease took a gamble when the opportunity arose to join husband Rob’s electrical and air-conditioning business as an apprentice. Having never handled tools or picked up a tool belt before, Terease was apprehensive about returning to studying. Not only was this a completely different career path for her, Terease also has severe dyslexia and understood the extra challenges she would face with her studies in order to achieve her goals.

The last time Terease had been in a classroom was in high school, an era which for her was marked by worry and low-self system from an undiagnosed learning disability. Dyslexia is a neurological disorder that affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling. Whilst some people might experience a level of mild dyslexia, Terease was diagnosed as having a very severe form.

When Terease looks at the words on a page she sees them as swirling letters and numbers, jumping off the page. The letters appear jumbled and often back to front. In order to make sense of the words she must collect the letters and bring them together to form a shape before then putting them into a word. Terease must complete this process for every single word within a sentence.

Choosing an electrical apprenticeship also meant that Terease would have to learn a new vocabulary of technical terms and phrases. This proved to be an additional challenge but one that she took in her stride.

Terease said her three children played an enormous role in helping her find the courage to speak up and not be ashamed of her learning difficulties.

“I have raised three very intelligent and successful children who encouraged me to not hide from my learning difficulties. They told me to always be upfront and honest and to speak up about my dyslexia.

“When I felt overwhelmed I was determined not to walk away. I kept asking questions so I could power through my modules. I am so glad I dug my heels in and have never wavered from my goals," said Terease.

To ensure Terease had the best possible opportunity to demonstrate her knowledge and skills, her teachers participated in one-on-one discussions to explain written assignments and practical examinations. This educational support was provided to ensure Terease was able to work independently and complete set tasks when she was back home in Warwick.

“My teachers had very insightful skills and also the ability to truly understand my learning disability. They provided a better learning environment for me while helping to remove some of the stresses I would normally feel. This is why I was able to successfully focus and achieve my goals,” said Terease.

Terease believes that leading by example, a strong work ethic, and not being afraid to step out of your comfort zone are key factors in being able to positively influence others.

“Never cheat yourself out of learning, work hard to achieve your goals and truly realise that you are more capable than you think. When the going gets tough, make sure you dig deep and when you come out the other side you will feel proud of your efforts. Just believe you are worthy of good results and outcomes and keep walking towards your goals," she said.

Terease compares the learning environment at TAFE Queensland to her school days back in the seventies and eighties as being two completely different experiences.

“With the right teachers, support and learning environment you can truly focus on your goals and develop new skills."

“People with a disability can feel intimidated when learning something new. I think you have to push through those feelings. Success won’t be handed to you on a platter, you have to work hard for it and it’s definitely worth it,” said Terease.

Terease’s success in completing her apprenticeship and achieving excellent results makes her an inspirational role model for anyone considering a vocational pathway.

Terease will be cheered on by her teachers and counterparts at the Metropolitan regional final of the 58th Queensland Training Awards in Brisbane on 19 July 2019.



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