Shayd Flegg, of Kiama, is celebrating being named 2020 Trainee of the Year at the 2020 Illawarra and South East Training Awards during a virtual ceremony on Tuesday.
Ms Flegg completed a Certificate III in Early Childhood and Care and was recognised for her commitment to learning and dedication to pursue her career goals through a working and learning on the job.
The citation said she had demonstrated passion, confidence and commitment, overcoming dyslexia in her journey to achieve her qualification.
Ms Flegg, of ECTARC Wallaroo Education and Care Service, is now doing a Diploma of Childcare and wants to complete a Bachelor Degree in Early Childhood.
She has a deep respect for Aboriginal culture and environmental sustainability and includes those activities in her childcare role and as a volunteer in the Kiama community.
The former Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts student also volunteers in drug and alcohol services and sustainable produce farming which she says "keeps her grounded".
Ms Flegg said she was watching online at home with her housemates and cooking dinner when she was named Trainee of the Year.
She said she was excited about the achievement after realising her vocation would be in childcare a couple of years ago.
"I am 23 and I started working at Wallaroo about a year and a half ago," she said.
"Prior to that I had worked at BlueScope Steel in the Colorbond factory packing and in hospitality at restaurants".
Ms Flegg said she had always really liked children and the opportunity to work and study child care and gain a qualification while doing the job really appealed to her.
"I am dyslexic so to be able to have more support for the theoretical component was really appealing," she said.
"I have had really good teachers and I think anyone who does vocational education will do well. To win this award is amazing but I think everyone who does such training will put in a lot of hard work because it is so rewarding".
Ms Flegg said her deep respect for Aboriginal culture because Australia was blessed with 50,000 years of indigenous culture.
"The Aboriginal people were the first astronomers, they were the first bakers and had such a deep rooted respect for being on country," she said.
"I respect Aboriginal culture and country and to be able teach that to the children is important to me.
"If I have a positive approach and a keen interest in learning the children will also share that with me.
"I think being able to combine sustainable living with talking about country is really good.
"I talk to them about bush tucker and the importance of respecting the land we are on. And the importance of maintaining that land".
For Mother's Day this year she made Bee's Wax Wraps with the children.
"I am able to share my passion with the children and I am really grateful for that," she said.
The Regional Apprentice of the Year was pastry chef Joshua Nickle, of Mittagong, who is completing the fourth year of his Certificate III in Baking. Mr Nickle impressed the judges with passion and knowledge of his industry.
Other major winners on the night are Cassandra O'Carrll, of Illaroo near Nowra, was named School Based Trainee of the Year.
Keeley Horton. of Port Kembla, took out the Vocation Student of the Year Award after competing a Diploma of Counselling with TAFE Wollongong and doing a Certificate IV in Youth Work.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year was Chey-Ann Cooper, of Queanbeyan.
VET in Schools Student of the Year was Jordan Lane, of Wollongong, who did food technology and cookery classes at Illawarra Sports High School before starting his Certificate II in Hospitality with TAFE Wagga Wagga under the VET in Schools program.
IVTC Dot Hennessy OAM Scholarships went to Stevie-Lee Forster, of Shell Cove, who studied Certificate III in Fitness and David Hubbert, of North Nowra, who studied Certificate III in Community Services.
The Illawarra Training Awards are presented by the Illawarra Vocational Training Committee (IVTC) for Illawarra & South East NSW. Members include representatives from industry, training organisations, Apprenticeship Support Networks and Training Services NSW.
Winners at regional level progress to the state awards held in Sydney in October, and if successful there they will go on to the National Awards in November. This year the event was a virtual awards night in keeping with the COVID 19 restrictions and social distancing guidelines.
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