By the end of Year 10, Sophie Hanley knew that traditional high school wasn’t going to allow her to pursue her dream career.

Her high school classes were so large that getting one-on-one time with teachers was difficult, which left her feeling frustrated.

Compounding her frustration was the fact that she knew she wanted to be an automotive engineer, but wasn’t getting the schooling she needed to get there.

“Growing up around my dad’s drift car developed my passion for motorsport and my love of welding and fabrication for cars,” said Sophie.

“After discussing what I should do with Mum, we felt that TAFE Queensland's Alexandra Hills Senior College was the best option for me. It would allow me to finish high school, while getting the support I needed and begin my studies toward my passion at the same time.”

Sophie began Year 11 at Senior College in 2019 and she is excelling in her high school studies while working towards a Certificate II in Engineering (MEM20205) one day per week.

“I now study high school subjects four days per week and spend Tuesday’s learning practical industry skills in metal fabrication,” said Sophie.

Established more than 30 years ago, the TAFE Queensland's Senior College offers Year 11 and 12 students the opportunity to complete their high school studies in a flexible, personal and mature learning environment.

This practical alternative to high school is providing exactly what Sophie needs to lay the foundation to build a career she's passionate about.

“Having spent weekends at Willowbank speedway with my dad and being with him when he worked on his car, I knew from a young age that I wanted to eventually work with race cars,” continues Sophie.

“TAFE Queensland Senior College is allowing me to do Year 11 and 12 differently and achieve this — I’m so happy I enrolled."

“Everyone is supportive and my teacher, Tanya Noreen, gives me the one-on-one time I need to gain the skills and confidence to get an apprenticeship after graduating.”

Since studying with TAFE Queensland Senior College, Sophie’s confidence in her skills and ability has grown. So much so, that she approached Brisbane-based automotive specialist Paul Crossley and asked for work experience at his workshop, Anything Racing.

“I approached a lot of automotive shops before Paul gave me a chance. I’m now putting the skills I’m learning at TAFE Queensland Senior College to use on some amazing performance cars, getting them race ready while learning about motorsport.

“I hope to stay in the performance car industry, continue learning my car fabrication craft, and hopefully one day build my own race car,” said Sophie.

Engineering is a growing industry in Australia, with a projected need for 20,300 more jobs by 2024 according to the Federal Employment Forecasts 2019



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