Seventeen-year-old dental assistant school-based trainee Loralei Coleman beat all other nominees from Bundaberg to Strathpine to secure a place in the state final of the Queensland Training Awards – an incredible achievement recognising her commitment to training and the skills she has developed.

TAFE Queensland Certificate III in Dental Assisting (HLT35015) student Loralei Coleman represented the region at the Queensland Training Awards on Friday 8 October 2021, after taking out the title of School-based Trainee of the Year at the North Coast regional final in July.

Loralei said she was proud to have her dedication to her training rewarded through such a prestigious event.

“I had my mum on FaceTime during the regional finals as she wasn’t able to be there with me to watch it, but when they announced I had won, I saw Mum jump up in her chair,” Loralei said.

“Seeing Mum’s reaction before actually processing that I had won (the regional final) made me so happy. I felt as though I had achieved something huge that would’ve made her feel really proud of me being her daughter,” she said.

Like many people, Loralei was initially afraid of going to the dentist, but during her recovery from getting her wisdom teeth removed – a procedure Loralei said she had been avoiding for years – she overcame her fear and found herself drawn to it as a career.

“I inquired with my general dentist about doing some volunteer work experience once a week last year to get an idea of the industry, which ended up going on for a term and a half, and then I was offered a traineeship with Sandstone Point Dental, which I happily took up,” Loralei said.

“It’s been great – the thing I enjoy most is the people I get to meet and the team I work with. I feel as though I’m 100 per cent supported the whole way and if I need a hand, I know I can always find someone to talk to without feeling silly.”

“I have until the end of the school year to finish my traineeship but have already been offered a position to work full time at my dental practice if I would like.”

The 17-year-old St Columban’s College student and Sandstone Point Dental trainee said the training she is undertaking through TAFE Queensland is giving her a head-start on her career, with Loralei planning on using her skills and qualification to continue her studies in the Royal Australian Navy once she graduates high school, and work her way towards being a dentist or oral surgeon.

“I have been with the Australian Navy Cadets for four years until I aged out earlier this year, and that was the best experience of my teenage years. Having that prior knowledge about how the navy works and gave me the idea that maybe someday I would want to go join the Royal Australian Navy, and already having a certificate up my sleeve will make it easier to travel up the ranks,” she said.

“You never know where your study will take you in the future, so why not start early and see what happens. I now have the knowledge and skills of working in a fast-past dental industry that sets me up for success in the long run.”

TAFE Queensland General Manager (East Coast region) Ana Rodger said she is proud of Loralei’s achievements.

“There is nothing more rewarding than seeing our students excel in doing what they love most,” Ms Rodger said.

“TAFE Queensland is committed to providing its students with the knowledge and practical skills they need to succeed, so when Loralei was selected from such an inspiring group of her peers and acknowledged on this scale for her passion, dedication, calibre, we felt her win as if it was our own."

“TAFE Queensland congratulates Loralei on such a well-deserved regional win, and for her nomination as a finalist at the Queensland Training Awards.”

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