TAFE student achieves 95 ATAR while caring for her two children

Juggling act: Young mother Freya Turnbull-Holmes received a 95 for her ATAR which secured her entry into a pre-medicine degree at UOW. Picture: Sylvia Liber
Juggling act: Young mother Freya Turnbull-Holmes received a 95 for her ATAR which secured her entry into a pre-medicine degree at UOW. Picture: Sylvia Liber

Young mother-of-two Freya Turnbull-Holmes is still in shock after receiving an impressive 95 ATAR.

The 20-year-old Wollongong TAFE student achieved the grade studying for the Tertiary Preparation Certificate (TPC) last year.

After struggling at high school, she said the freedom and flexibility of TAFE enabled her to be more responsible for her education without affecting her family life.

‘’I was still able to look after my children, have my house clean. We went on play dates and that was all during TPC,’’ she said.

Ms Turnbull-Holmes had been expecting a good mark, but said she ‘’practically fainted’’ with surprise after seeing the band six equivalent score.

TAFE NSW describes the TPC as a Year 12 equivalent with a focus on research and study skills alongside discipline-specific content.

The qualification is an alternate path for students applying for university placements through the Universities Admission Centre.

Cary Buecher, head teacher at TAFE Illawarra’s Wollongong campus said the course was designed to prepare students specifically for university by ‘’developing students to become independent learners’’.

Mr Buecher said students valued the range of support services and the mature learning environment.

‘’It’s a more relaxed environment. The students come along, they’re keen to learn generally, so it’s just a nice environment to be in and the students feel supported,’’ he said.

Ms Turnbull-Holmes said the TAFE day care provided excellent support for her daughters, three-year-old Kairi and one-year-old Rois.

‘’The rest of it was little sleep and trying to get in every inch of study I could, which didn't always happen much,’’ she said. Her partner and family were also ‘’ridiculously helpful’’. 

A strong advocate for TAFE, Ms Turnbull-Holmes said the HSC was often ‘’just too much pressure for so many people’’.

She advised students struggling with the HSC to look at options like the TPC. 

Beginning her Bachelor of Pre-Medicine, Science and Health this year, Ms Turnbull-Holmes hopes to continue her family’s involvement in the field of medicine.

‘’Now she’s at the next step it doesn’t get easier,’’ Mr Buecher said. ‘’It’s a big slog, but I think she’ll enjoy it.’’