Proud is the word that comes to mind when Patricia Mary Carroll considers than past 40 years of successful history at a hub of special education.
The chief executive of St George and Sutherland Community College is rightly recognised with a Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia for service to education, and to people with a disability.
From early humble beginnings to a Queen's Birthday Honour, she says she is delighted to be acknowledged in 2019.
Ms Carroll created the college, which has guided students for four decades. It was first launched from a small classroom at Caringbah High School with only 14 students with a disability in 1979.
The college now supports children and adults with their English and school studies, and provides vocational, leisure courses and activities.
It has expanded partnerships with community services including Sylvanvale and Civic, and delivers more than 400 courses to the community, Sydney-wide and to overseas students.
Ms Carroll said the dream was to have a place where people with disability could further their education, and to create a college where people with a disability could access post-school education.
This vision became a reality, and the college now supports 130 clients in disability each day and enrols more than 6000 people each year.
Ms Carroll is being recognised as an outstanding member of the community at a national level for her work with empowering people with a disability and for her work in education.
"It's a great privilege to serve others and to be recognised by your country for working with people with a disability and in the field of education," she said.
"All who work in these areas contribute greatly to social justice and to the development of people in our community.
"It is a special honour to receive this award on the Queen's birthday celebration weekend. The Queen is a great and gracious role model for women who take up the challenge of combining family commitment and service to the community."
She says this is an honour she shares with her daughter Erin who has Down syndrome.
"At the beginning of this journey there was no education past high school available for people with a disability. This motivation for change has never left me," Ms Carroll said.
"I also share it with my family, wonderful colleagues and board members who assisted the dream."