College Senior Wins Student of the Year at Prestigious Awards

Latest News, Thursday, 14 Oct 2021

St James College Year 12 Student and Vice Captain Mary Chol has won the 2021 VET Equity Student of the Year at the Queensland Training Awards.

The prestigious award is the highest honour in the state and is presented to a student who has ‘demonstrated outstanding achievement in overcoming a significant barrier or disadvantage to effectively participate in vocational education and training (VET)’.

St James College Principal Ms Ann Rebgetz said the award is particularly meaningful for the Year 12 student because in her home country of South Sudan girls do not have the right to an education.

After arriving in Australia as a refugee, Mary began the  challenging journey of learning a new language and becoming used to the Australian way of life.

“Mary has overcome huge obstacles including being denied an education in her African home country, because she was female, and resultant tragic circumstances when supported by family to gain an education.“

“Her experience of life in a refugee camp for a number of years, coming to Australia in upper primary school, learning English, adjusting to a new culture, feeling that academic achievement is so challenging – all has been enhanced by her determination to succeed and willingness to take on adversity – we are so proud of her at St James College,” Ms Rebgetz shared. 

Further, Ms Rebgetz said that Mary’s leadership has been outstanding in her role as Vice Captain of St James College.

On receiving the Award, Mary was visibly moved and expressed her gratitude to her teachers and to her family.

“I would like to say a big thank you to my teachers Ms Rebgetz, Ms Dolejs and Mr Wiseman for their amazing hard work and support that they’ve provided me.”

“Thank you to my family, they are my biggest supporters, coming from a background where I wasn’t allowed an education, this is such an amazing award, thank you very much,” she said.

Mary is currently completing her Senior Certificate, is studying a Certificate III in Fitness and undertaking a school-based traineeship Certificate III in Hospitality at a Taco Bell restaurant.  

Mary wants to attend University in 2022 to study nursing and is seeking scholarship opportunities from local universities. Mary has also already completed University subjects through the University Step Up Program at ACU. Her Training Awards experience equips her well nurturing excellent communication skills, providing confidence, and hands on skills to reach her dreams.

The Queensland Training awards is an annual event that celebrates the state's top training achievers from apprentices, students, teachers, training providers, employers and community organisations. 

Winners in all other categories were also announced as part of the Diamond Jubilee anniversary event celebrating 60 years of the transformative power of skills.  #QTA #SkillsPower

Click here to view the event online.

Image caption: St James College Principal, Ms Ann Rebgetz and Year 12 Student Ms Mary Chol at the Queensland Training Awards event.