For Renee, receiving an award for training excellence at her graduation in Townsville was the last thing she expected.
Renee was named the 2019 Ailsa Tobiano Award recipient, an accolade in honour of former business teacher Ailsa who taught and mentored students for more than 20 years before retiring.
“I was very surprised that my teacher had nominated me for the award. It was nice that he believed in me so much, even though there were times when I didn’t believe in myself,” Renee said.
Renee's pursuit of higher education is a roadmap of her personal and professional growth.
Fresh out of high school, teenage Renee faced a fork in the road.
"I did get accepted into university, but at the time there was no way I could support myself to move from Charters Towers to Townsville to study."
"Completing a business administration traineeship with TAFE Queensland after high school was much more manageable, and the training allowed me to start working my way up the ranks to later become a personal assistant."
After several years in industry and an eventual relocation to Townsville, Renee decided to return to TAFE Queensland to upskill. However, the 32-year-old admits hitting the books later in life was daunting.
“I had not completed any proper research in a long time so there were moments when I doubted my abilities, but my confidence grew once I started learning new things.”
"It helped that I had an amazing teacher and a really strong support network at home."
Throughout her training Renee embraced a can-do attitude to interrupt any self-doubt.
"When you’ve been out of learning for so long, you might not feel as smart as others around you. My studies taught me a lot about myself and I realised that if I set my mind on a goal I can achieve it."
“My belief in my abilities also shone through in my work, and I gained the confidence to apply for higher level employment as an office manager.”
With her sights set on one day becoming a chief finance officer, Renee said she hopes to use her TAFE Queensland training as a pathway to study accounting or commerce at university.
“If I decide to pursue university I will receive credits for my advanced diploma which is great because I’ll be able to complete my degree faster and therefore make it more affordable.”