"I've just always loved technology, I've always been drawn towards techy things. In high school that was one of my favourite subjects, and that gravitated me towards an IT course. I really found my niche helping people in the classroom. That drew me into being a teacher, and that's where I found my passion with tech and education," said Cristey.
It's a role that keeps Cristey on her toes, overseeing the full spectrum of information technology courses offered at TAFE Queensland.
"In the IT teaching team at TAFE Queensland we have a broad range of programs. We run advanced programming courses, deployment networking courses, web development, cybersecurity, and we're moving into robotics. There's a lot of spaces where we can collaborate and the students can come together," she said.
Cristey is all too familiar with the rapid pace of change in the industry and understands how critical it is for her team to stay up to date.
"With IT it's important to be current — things change so frequently. We're connected to a lot of industry in Brisbane. I'm part of different meetup groups such as the Australian Computer Society that run a range of events. We visit industry and keep those connections open," she continued.
Her emphasis on keeping up with the latest advances in the industry also extends to the classroom.
"At TAFE Queensland we try to invest a lot of time and energy into making our classrooms as current as possible with the latest industry technology. We've got our Cisco Networking gear that they use to learn and develop on and we run the latest software to create virtualized environments for our students."
All Cristey's hard work is obviously paying off, with her students getting great job outcomes in the IT industry.
"We're really blessed to be known as a really great technical training provider in IT. We do get lots of local industries coming to us to say, 'Hey, have you got any fabulous great graduates, great graduates?' I love connecting them with those opportunities, and they keep coming back for more so we're doing something right," she said.
Seeing her students progress through their studies and being able to connect them with real job outcomes is a highlight of the role for Cristey.
"Making great happen for me in the IT teaching space is students arriving engaged, seeing them through their assessments, and when they achieve at the end, that's what I would consider great. Even better, seeing them into a job and seeing them cross the stage at graduation. That's the greatness that we're hoping to achieve," she said.
For Cristey, it's an exciting time to be in the industry and at TAFE Queensland, with a range of exciting new projects in the works.
"The future's looking bright. We're hoping to roll out a Security Operations Training Centre, which will give our cyber security students great exposure to a more real world environment in security."
"We're looking at robotics labs where students can play and build robots and learn to program them. We're also moving into more real life in simulation of what we're training our students to do in the real world," she said.
Despite her love of IT, it's clear that Cristey is as equally passionate about her role in training the next generation of industry professionals.
"The best thing about being an educator for me is those lightbulb moments when the students in the classroom really get it."
"It's a thrill for me, so it's very rewarding," Cristey concluded.