TAFE NSW Excellence Awards showcases highlights of Sutherland Shire students

Study paid off: Eliza Urey and Christopher Russo are among the four Sutherland Shire students who won TAFE NSW excellence awards this month.
Study paid off: Eliza Urey and Christopher Russo are among the four Sutherland Shire students who won TAFE NSW excellence awards this month.

Sutherland Shire students have taken out several top awards in the TAFE NSW Excellence Awards this month.

Four recipients were recognised for their academic achievements and positive work ethic at the awards.

Eliza Urey or Menai, Christopher Russo of Miranda, Sarah Wadland of Sylvania and TAFE Digital student Verity Smith of Engadine were all announced as winners.

Eliza completed a certificate IV in business administration at Gymea, and was announced as Trainee of the Year.

Christopher completed a certificate III in commercial cookery at Loftus, and was announced as winner of the Apprentice of the Year. His next step is to study patisserie so he can open up his own catering business. He also works as an apprentice chef at Cafe Sydney.

Sarah completed a certificate III in meat processing (retail butcher) and was announced as winner of the Agribusiness Student of the Year.

She is a fourth-generation apprentice butcher, who defied her family's wishes to show them that women can cut it in the meat industry.

"When I first decided I wanted to become a butcher, they were all against it," she said. "They didn't think it was an industry for females and thought it would be too hard for me. When I told my father, being his only daughter, and only child, he wanted to protect me from the industry."

She got her first taste of the business while working as a cashier in her grandfather's butcher shop. But when she requested an apprenticeship he disapproved and refused to train her.

"I was forced to step outside the family business to find another butcher who was willing to take me on," she said.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics census data from 2016, women make up only six per cent of butchers and smallgoods makers.

"I'm now fulfilling my apprenticeship at Farmgate to Plate retail butcher at Miranda and might look to join dad once I've received my qualification," Sarah said.

Verity completed a diploma of landscape design and was also announced as winner of the Agribusiness Student of the Year.

In the past 12 years, Verity has been actively involved in the establishment and running of an international non-profit that provides health and education services to communities in rural western Kenya.

She now has the knowledge to turn two acres of the land at the school into a permaculture food forest and education hub, empowering the community towards food security.

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