Enrolling in SchoolTech and becoming a Junior Indigenous Marine and Environmental (JIME) Cadet has changed Reggie's life.
"I went from someone who didn’t know what she was doing, who didn’t want to go to school, who just didn’t have her life together to someone who now wants to go to school and work every day," Reggie said.
"I never thought I’d like school, but when I came to SchoolTech I loved it immediately. It’s so much fun, I love going to class and sometimes I don’t want to leave school at the end of the day."
The JIME Cadets program provides eligible SchoolTech students like Reggie with the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of their Elders and be custodians of the environment.
JIME Cadets earn while they learn, spending one to two days a week working on board tourism vessels.
Reggie, 18, said she loved gaining industry experience.
"I have been working on a whale tour boat and I reckon it’s pretty deadly because I get to see whales all day, every day - it’s so amazing! Out on the water is where I am meant to be, it’s just the best experience."
"I'm on top of the world when I’m at work, even when I'm cleaning windows or doing dishes it’s still amazing because I’m doing what I want to do and I’m where I want to be," she said.
Reggie is from the Yidinji nation and said her vocational education and training journey has strengthened her cultural connections.
"When I told my granddad that I travel to Fitzroy Island as part of my job, he told me that my ancestors are connected to the island. It's amazing that today I'm working where my people used to fish and hunt."
Reggie said she enjoyed the hands-on learning environment at SchoolTech.
"I'm still studying the essential high school subjects to obtain my Queensland Certificate of Education, but I'm also completing a Certificate II in Engineering Pathways (MEM20413) and a Certificate II in Maritime Operations (Coxswain Grade 1 Near Coastal) (MAR20318)."
"I love my trade class days. It is so much fun being in the workshop learning different things and working on engines. I can weld any type of metal, I can cut any type of metal, I can pull apart engines, I can name a lot of tools - it's awesome!"
Reggie said she never used to think positively about her future, but now she does.
"I don't think I would still be in school had I not enrolled in SchoolTech and become a JIME Cadet. I was terrible at normal school and there were a lot of people who thought I was going to be terrible at TAFE too, but my teachers are so good, they encourage me every day."
"These days I think my future is looking great, and my goal is to drive big boats and work on big engines someday," Reggie said.
SchoolTech is an initiative in Cairns between TAFE Queensland and Woree State High School. SchoolTech allows students to complete their senior schooling, gain their Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE) and two nationally recognised qualifications while participating in work placement and vocational training.
The JIME Cadet Program is the brainchild of former cricketer Matthew Hayden AM and philanthropist Guy Reynolds AO through the Hayden/Reynolds Foundation.