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Student Stories

Student of the Year International 2016

Mabel Arroyave Betancur

Certificate III & IV in Commercial Cookery - The Hills College

Mabel’s self-motivation, initiative and professionalism has seen her complete three qualifications in two years. Working in The Hills College’s training restaurant during her Diploma of Hospitality, Mabel gained the confidence and experience to work as a supervisor and manager in front of house services. Mabel extended her hospitality skillset to include Commercial Cookery qualifications, allowing her to design menus and work as a chef. An International student from Colombia, Mabel rose to the challenge of studying in a second language and has relished the support of TAFE staff and students in helping her to achieve this.

“I have not only acquired knowledge and skills at TAFE Western Sydney, but grown as a person in different areas of my life.”

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International Student of the Year 2015

International Student of the Year

Kalliopi Papadatou

Diploma of Visual Arts - Nepean College

Kalliopi’s strong focus, consistent attention to detail and ambition to succeed led to her achievement of outstanding academic results and attainment of a high level of skills as an artist. Kalliopi came to Australia from Greece to study fine arts. She gained confidence and developed her communication skills through her studies and discovered a penchant for portraiture and figure where she demonstrated great promise. Kalliopi’s goal is to become an artist and to teach others to express themselves creatively.

“Since I started studying at TAFE I’ve kept track of my progress in class. I look at every change, every growth, from drawing skills to my way of thinking and seeing everything that’s around me.”

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Katherine came to Australia from the Philippines to study at TAFE. English was her second language when she arrived, however she found communication to be easy and enjoyed the greater emphasis on self-directed learning.

Katherine is studying aged care so that she can contribute to the lives of others. She found her teachers and classmates to be very helpful and considerate, and all the facilities such as the library to be excellent.

“The teachers are very knowledgeable and easy to understand. I have enjoyed acquiring new idea and have found the assessments to be beneficial to our learning. In my course there were many Filipinos and other international students.”

“The Culture here is Australia is very different to ours in the Philippines. At first it was difficult as I missed my family but TAFE has been very supportive and I now consider them a second family. Because of the technology I can also see my family as often as I miss them.”

“Australia is a good country and the people at TAFE have been very nice. The experience is all worth it

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Ellen Moralis


Ellen completed a number of design qualifications through the Nepean Arts and Design Centre (NADC) at the Kingswood Campus which helped her to gain employment as a graphic designer.

During her studies, Ellen had the opportunity to develop and practise her creative abilities. She even won a competition which led to one of her designs being printed onto a limited edition t-shirt! Currently working on magazine layouts, Ellen hopes to one day use her graphic design skills within the fashion industry.

"My studies helped me to get into an industry that I am really passionate about."

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Roshan is from Nepal and chose to study with TAFE in Australia because it had a good reputation for practical training. When he first came to Australia, Roshan did not speak English, but through working in a cafe and studying at TAFE he has developed very good English skills.

Roshan is studying to be a nurse at Nepean College which is situated in Western Sydney at the foothills of the beautiful Blue Mountains. He has completed work placement in an aged care facility and believes his training is already paying off for him.

"I am able to work for 40 hours per fortnight, which gives me enough money to pay my expenses and get around. It is easy to find work and take my study and work together. Thea teachers have been great help and we have many international students in my course, including my home country"

"I find Australia to be friendly, laid back and easy to get around. It is affordable and adjusting to life here has not been as hard as I thought"

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Yuka Takeda - Japan

Yuka Takeda

Coming from Japan, Yuka wanted to study horse racing so enrolled in the Certificate III in Racing (Trackrider). She has enjoyed the excellent facilities at the Australian Equine and Racing Academy at Richmond College situated within the Hawkesbury Valley, home to a large horse racing community, racing stables and a large international polo field complex.

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Jeffry Ho - Hong Kong

Jeffry Ho

I’m enjoying studying the Design course in Western Sydney Institute (WSI). The teachers and students are enthusiastic and friendly. Every time we come up with new ideas, the teachers always support and encourage us, and we never feel bored in the class.

I did research before deciding where to study. The Nepean Arts and Design Centre in WSI had the course I wanted.

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Alia Bakht Noor - Pakistan

Alia Noor

After completing the Diploma of Community Welfare Work at Nirimba College, Alia Noor was nominated by her teachers for the WSI International Student of the Year due to her academic rigour, high level of competence and her eagerness to embrace new concepts. A university lecturer in Islamic studies in her home country of Pakistan, Alia chose to study community services in Australia to further her passion for alleviating social burden. Alia is currently working as a community worker at the Hills Holroyd Parramatta Migrant Resource Centre in Western Sydney. “I believe in learning at every moment of my life. Two years’ journey at TAFE was full of those moments.”

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Marlies Maczejka – Austria

Marlies Maczejka

After doing some travelling in Australia, then returning to Europe, Marlies Maczejka decided she missed the ‘Australian way of life’ so she applied to come back as an International student to study Certificate IV in Tourism . She says: “I wanted to study close to Sydney, but not directly in the city. I was offered all TAFE Colleges around Sydney; I researched every college and read the reviews. In the end I chose Blue Mountains College, because of the landscape and their good reputation in Tourism.” After a few early set-backs in her search for a place to live when she first arrived, Marlies found great accommodation.

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Esther Shui Li Fong – Malaysia

Esther Shui Li Fong

After hearing about TAFE NSW from a family member and visiting an education exhibition in Malaysia, Esther enrolled in the Bachelor of Early Childhood Education and Care (Birth-5) course at Nirimba College. She is currently in her second year of this four year degree course which aims to develop early childhood teachers who can integrate theoretical knowledge into practical education and care skills in the workplace.

“I chose to study at WSI TAFE because it has a good reputation and gives the students hands-on learning. I’ve heard and read a lot about how successful students were after they graduated from TAFE in many fields” Esther says

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Gerson D’Souza - India

Gerson D'Souza

"My experience here at TAFE NSW has been simply brilliant," Gerson said. "I have met some of the most influential and experienced people of the music industry. It is not every day one of your teachers was the mastering engineer for the American music legend Frank Zappa. From sharing their industry knowledge to being downright relatable, these people have paved the path for what can only be a bright future for me."

Gerson said that he was also impressed with the equipment available at Nirimba College, which is in the Western Sydney suburb of Quakers Hill. “They have a commercial sized recording studio with up-to-date recording equipment and gear. Also, they have their very own venue where they conduct weekly gigs as a class. Having to come to class to set up for and operate either a live show or a recording session for me was an absolute dream come true. Not only was the work 'hands on' and challenging, but also it got me prepared for the outside industry."

Graduate, Advanced Diploma of Sound Production, Nirimba College.

Sagarika Kaula – India

Sagarika Kaula

Sagarika said “I have made a lot of friends; my classmates and teachers were friendly and welcoming. I felt at home straight away. I have received a fantastic education at TAFE NSW. If one wants a good tertiary education in Australia, TAFE NSW is the place to get it.”

Graduate, Diploma of Children’s Services, Nepean College – Kingswood Campus

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Alexandre Pigeot – Mauritius

Alexandre Pigeot

Alexandre came all the way to Australia from Mauritius to study Music. Now a Sound Designer for the peak sound studio in Mauritius, Alexandre describes himself as “the happiest Sound Designer in the world”. “My TAFE experience helped me grow as a musician, first, but also as a person. You learn to take care of yourself, in a wonderful study environment. It is an experience that broadens your horizons and concentrates on creativity. Unlike university, TAFE NSW – Western Sydney Institute has more of a hands-on approach to anything you want to learn. I loved it." With a plan to start his own internet-based radio broadcast, Alexandre is thrilled with the training he received through TAFE NSW, which has given him the skills to achieve his dreams.

Graduate, Diploma of Music, Nirimba College

Chamindra Devaprasad De Silva – Sri Lanka

Chamindra Devaprasad De Silva

“I had only a little knowledge of IT when I arrived in Australia and it was up to me to build my own future as a qualified IT professional and it’s exactly what TAFE NSW - Western Sydney Institute, Mount Druitt College gave me. The quarterly seminars enabled us to meet and talk to top IT professionals from Microsoft, IBM, Australian Computer Society and leading companies from many IT fields. The state-of-the-art equipment and practise hardware and software made our practicals fun and interesting. The work placement program helped me to get experience in the IT field and it greatly helped me to have confidence in what I learnt and have an understanding of a true work place environment.”

Distinction Student, Diploma of Information Technology (Networking), Mount Druitt College

Win Kyaw – Myanmar

Win Kyaw

“I will advise my friends to first attend TAFE NSW when they come here and study. It is cost effective, more practical, and the D2D pathway is a good alternative pathway to university.” Win made the right choice. “Since my childhood I dreamt of becoming an accountant.

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Julia Guseva – Russia

Julia Guseva

“The teachers provided a lot of support, especially during the first semesters. The environment is very friendly. There are many facilities for successful study in Nirimba TAFE campus.

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Danica Joy Salandanan Mallari – Philippines

Danica Joy Salandanan Mallari

Danica works in Canberra as front of house staff in the Hospitality industry. “I entered Baulkham Hills Campus as a shy girl, but graduated with self-confidence and I am ready to take on any challenge life might give me. I am very grateful to have studied here and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The knowledge and skills I’ve gained also opened a lot of work opportunities. Entering the hospitality industry wasn’t hard as TAFE NSW – Western Sydney Institute made sure that I was well taught and job ready. I definitely recommend studying in TAFE NSW because it really helps international students like me. TAFE teaches students the knowledge and skills required and helps us adjust and get through our new environment as well. You make it feel like it's our second home.”

Distinction Student, Diploma of Hospitality Management including Certificate III in Commercial Cookery, The Hills College – Baulkham Hills Campus

Bikram Sherchan – Nepal – Endeavour Award Holder

Bikram Sherchan

“I like the idea of excursions and field visits in my course because this allowed me to actually watch and understand what we’re being taught. I feel lucky to be able to take practical experience as well here at TAFE. I find it interesting overall living in Australia, and it has given me a different perspective on life. I am loving everything about Australia: its clean surroundings, good customer services, social welfare system, and practical teaching structure in TAFE.”

Student, Advanced Diploma of Tourism, The Hills College, Baulkham Hills Campus

Jesty Karl Salvatierra – Philippines

Jesty Karl Salvatierra

Jesty is a World Skills State Winner and a finalist in the 2010 NSW Government International Student Award. Jesty now works as a Database and System Administrator and he intends to pursue postgraduate IT Management Studies in the future.

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Dayana Rocha – Brazil

Dayana Rocha

“When I applied to study in TAFE, I was little bit afraid because English is not my first language. I thought it would be a challenge for me. But the reality was better than I thought...The place is great, clean, they have good resources here, the teachers are very helpful and friendly. TAFE is definitely a good environment for me to study. I did the course that I always wanted to do, in such a nice country with cool people around me that even if I move I know that I will have contact with them forever. I also got a job because of the course so I can say that doing this course was something totally worth it for me. I would also say that one of the best decisions that I made in my life was to get out of my comfort zone in Brazil and deciding to do something different that would give me a better qualification and a better life. I would advise my friends to do the same. It will definitely change their lives as it changed mine. My plan for the future is to go to university as TAFE is a pathway for me. I would like to get a job in my area and maybe live in Australia permanently”.

Graduate, Certificate IV in Graphic Design Foundation, Nepean College

Joel Dodin – Mauritius

Joel believes that studying at TAFE NSW helped him in his career. “The TAFE qualification is known and respected in the industry,” Joel says. After his graduation Joel was fortunate to get work as the Chef Supervisor of the food outlet at UWS Connect, Hawkesbury campus.

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Deepthi Kumarasinghe – Sri Lanka

The teachers were always helpful and very friendly. They have amazing talents and experiences. Sometimes I was amazed to see them so friendly that you don't feel uncomfortable to talk any matter with them. Working with children and staff from different cultures was the biggest challenge for me as it is different from my cultural attitudes, perspectives and practices. As an international student, being one of the best among 60 students in my group at the beginning of the course was the other biggest challenge I had to face. Finally, a Diploma with a Distinction is the evidence of achieving these challenges.

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Ilona Hoeve – The Netherlands

Ilona Hoeve

Ilona travelled to Australia from the Netherlands to study a music course. After finishing her planned studies, Ilona decided to stay in Australia and explore her options for further training and work, and decided to undertake the TAFE NSW course Certificate IV in Business Administration.

Ilona attended her classes at The Hills College, Baulkham Hills campus. She enjoyed the friendly environment of the campus.

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Cynthia Velasco-Chua - Philippines

Cynthia Velasco-Chua

Cynthia Velasco-Chua describes 2007 completing her Diploma of Digital Media at TAFE NSW – Western Sydney Institute, as a kind of rollercoaster ride. “I felt awed and amazed. It’s really a hands-on type of learning. I never imagined in one year I would be able to animate, create graphics and web design. I even got to make a radio ad and a short ?lm,” she says.

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Dorolynne Orca - Philippines

Dorolynne Orca

Dorolynne was attracted to TAFE NSW’s flexible timetable and wide selection of elective modules.

“I like that TAFE NSW allowed me to study and have a part-time job too,” she said.

Dorolynne, who studied business for one year in the Philippines, chose to try something new and is now studying Accounting and Finance at TAFE NSW – Western Sydney Institute, Blacktown College.

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Elbe Somes - Philippines

Elbe Somes

Elbe Somes, an international student from the Philippines recently completed the Diploma of Information Technology (Networking) at TAFE NSW – Western Sydney Institute, Blacktown College. He got to know about TAFE NSW through an education exhibition in the Philippines organised by IDP Education Australia - Philippines (Manila).

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Jesty Karl Salvatierra - Philippines

Jesty Karl Salvatierra

International student from the Philippines, Jesty Karl Salvatierra, studying Diploma of Information Technology (Networking) at TAFE NSW – Western Sydney Institute, Mount Druitt College, won the GOLD medal at the 2009 WorldSkills competition held in Canada in September.

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Karol Anne Lansang - Philippines

Karol Anne Lansang

Karol Anne Lansang is enjoying her time at TAFE NSW so much she hopes to be able to teach Australian students someday.

“I’m planning to apply for Permanent Residency and practice what I have learned. I hope to take advantage of the opportunities that the country has to offer for people with a young family like mine,” she said.

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Nerfe?or Bellaco - Philippines

Nerfe?or Bellaco

Nerfefior had a passion for cooking and was looking for a provider with world class training to reach her full potential as a successful chef.
She followed her agent’s advice and decided to study the Diploma of Hospitality Management (including Commercial Cookery) at TAFE NSW – Western Sydney Institute.

“The TAFE NSW – Western Sydney Institute, Nepean College, is very well-equipped with modern facilities such as top of the line kitchen tools and ?xtures crucial for learning,” said Nerfe?or.

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Teodorico Aquino

Teodorico Aquino

Teodorico Aquino was attracted to TAFE NSW because of its good reputation and the opportunities it provided to advance his career in hospitality management. It didn’t take him long to decide to enrol at TAFE NSW – Western Sydney Institute, Nepean College, where he has recently earned a Diploma of Hospitality Management.

TAFE NSW, the largest education and training provider in Australia, offers over 1,200 practical, work-oriented training courses in over 130 campus locations in Sydney and New South Wales. TAFE NSW – Western Sydney Institute has seven campus locations in Sydney and international students from more than 30 countries.

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Dinno Ka Ming, Chui, Hong Kong

Certificate III in Racing (Trackrider).

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