SUMMER 2016 | 17
THE POWER OF MUSIC MASON HOPE
A UNIQUE CAREER IN MINING BEC FLOSS
TRAINEE OF THE YEAR BEN NEDWICH
ROAD TO RECOVERY ELIN HARKONEN
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WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU. We are asking students and graduates to share their stories to be featured in TAFE Queensland East Coast’s MAKE Magazine and our anticipated MAKE blog. Email us at email@example.com and tell us your work experiences, personal triumphs and successes.
I WAS DETERMINED TO WALK AGAIN ELIN HARKONEN RECALLS HER ROAD TO RECOVERY
After breaking my neck, I remember taking one look at my x-rays and asking the doctor when he thought I’d be able to do a handstand again. He looked at me sheepishly and said that I was lucky to still be alive and that he actually didn’t know if I’d ever be able to walk again… let alone do a handstand. But that wasn’t an option. I was determined to walk again! I was three-time Swedish Vaulting Champion and had proudly represented my country at European and World Championships around the world. Vaulting can best be described as doing gymnastics and dance on a horse as it gallops around an arena in front of thousands of people. It’s a gruelling sport and requires supreme coordination and balance – I loved the challenge, and I loved my horse. But after seven years without serious injury, I suddenly found myself lying in a hospital bed with a broken neck.
My C5 vertebra was broken and I had cracked my C4; the disc in between was completely damaged. Looking back at it all now, I realise how strong my mindset was. I was never going to let my injury break me. I became completely committed to my treatment and rehab and with the support of my family and friends, I’m now back stronger than ever and doing what I love – training, inspiring and motivating others to be the best they can be. I am not only studying a Diploma of Sports Development specialising in Surfing at TAFE Queensland East Coast, but I’m also building my own personal training and wellbeing business called, BREAK IT and
It all happened so quickly. My horse got scared and bucked violently. I was thrown uncontrollably into the air and before I knew it, I was plummeting head-first to the arena floor.
you will MAKE IT. I am forever thankful for everything my family and friends have done for me. Without them I wouldn’t be here today.
My first reaction was to get back to my feet and shake it off—no pain, no gain so they say. I tried to get up, but couldn’t. I screamed… I was in so much pain.
I still get goosebumps when I think about the first time I was able to walk and run again!
It all happened so quickly. My horse got scared and bucked violently. I was thrown uncontrollably into the air and before I knew it, I was plummeting head-first to the arena floor. PHOTO OF ELIN: SUPPLIED COVER PHOTO OF GRACE: AMANDA FIEDLER
CAN “BEYOUCOOL JUST BY BEING
PHOTO BRIAN GERITZ
A born performer, 17-year-old singer/songwriter Mason Hope has found the ‘recipe’ for a successful career in music and is completing his Year 12 studies differently from most other students. Mason is a gifted musician and has been performing at local venues across the Sunshine Coast while completing his senior schooling at Maroochydore State High School. He’s grown up juggling music lessons; playing gigs; performing with the Buderim Youth Theatre of Excellence (BYTES); and rehearsing for festivals like the renowned Caloundra Music Festival. In 2016 Mason featured in Triple J Unearthed, won the iconic Gympie Music Muster Talent Search competition and was crowned the ‘Voice of Urban’ at the Caboolture Urban Country Music Festival. He was also selected as a top four finalist in the Coca-Cola Tamworth Music Festival Rising Star competition; and featured in the Queensland-wide talent show, Creative Generation – State Schools Onstage where he performed in four arena style stage shows at the Brisbane Convention Centre which aired on Channel Ten. “Songs are like recipes handed down through generations. In the same way recipes are tweaked to find the best flavour, songs can be tweaked to find the best composition and sound,” Mason said. “I use beats, rhythms and melodies like ‘ingredients’ to connect with people and tell my story through music,” he said. Mindful not to pigeonhole himself into any particular musical genre, Mason’s songs express his thoughts, feelings and emotions about life and events around him.
“It’s important to show people that life has its ups and downs, just like music,” Mason said. “Life is a series of moments and it’s important to cherish each one before they pass you by. You can be cool just by being you,” he said. With a voice likened to the great Elvis Presley, Mason is set to take on the world one song at a time; first stop Graceland, Tennessee to record an album in the iconic SUN Studio – the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll – just as Elvis did. Mason is truly a unique performer who is looking to pursue a unique career in music and is doing school differently in order to achieve his dreams. “I realise that homework, and the stress and pressure of exams is part and parcel of growing up, but it isn’t really my thing. I’d rather be writing songs, playing my guitar and performing,” Mason said. “University didn’t offer a pathway that best suited me or my skills. Thankfully, I found an alternative and less stressful pathway into the music industry at TAFE.” “I’m complementing my Year 11 and 12 high school studies by undertaking a Certificate IV in Music at TAFE Queensland East Coast. I not only receive 8 QCE credit points for studying TAFE at school, but I’ve also been able to hone my skills and acquire qualifications at the same time as pursuing my passion for music.” “Even if I don’t make it big, music will always be a strong part of my life and TAFE is helping me form the building blocks I need to be successful long into the future,” he said. Follow Mason’s adventures at MasonHopeMusic.com.
PHOTO AMANDA FIEDLER
GRACE Iâ€™LL BE A NURSE FOREVER
raduate Enrolled Nurse Grace Sinclair is capable, confident and caring. With the Sunshine Coast Health Precinct set to open its doors in 2017, Grace is one of the many committed nurses and numerous other dedicated healthcare professionals with the skills, training and education to make the launch a resounding success. While she might occasionally miss Christmas Day with her family, a friend’s birthday party or even a customary Australia Day BBQ, you can rest assured that Grace will never miss a shift and will be by your, or a loved one’s, bedside in time of need. Growing up in Toowoomba, far from the hustle and bustle of a busy hospital ward, 22-year-old Grace spent her weekends and school holidays outdoors chasing the sun and wakeboarding on Somerset Dam in Queensland’s South East. “I live for the outdoors. I know nothing else,” Grace said. “If we weren’t wakeboarding, we’d be out camping or exploring,” she said. In 2014, after spending a weekend at Coolum, Grace made the brave decision to move to the Sunshine Coast. “I just love the lifestyle. I had to live here,” Grace said. “People are always out doing things. The beaches were packed with people; the bikeways were teeming with runners and cyclists; it was so vibrant. I love being active and outdoors, that’s what life on the Sunshine Coast is all about,” she said.
“Nursing’s always been something I’ve been interested in, but I was scared that I might not have what it takes to be a good nurse,” Grace said. Grace put her worries aside and decided to enrol in nursing at TAFE Queensland East Coast to see if she had the ability to join one of the most challenging but diverse and rewarding professions in the world. “Mum studied at TAFE and I did TAFE at school throughout my senior years. TAFE was the obvious choice for me and for what I wanted to do – care for people,” Grace said. Like a lot of people, Grace is all too familiar with caring for loved ones coping with serious illnesses. Over the space of three short years, Grace became quite accustomed to the inside of hospitals and nursing homes.
I love nursing. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. To me, Ramsay’s philosophy of ‘People Caring for People’ is what nursing’s all about. I’ll be a nurse forever.
A self-proclaimed ‘outdoorsy type’, Grace spends most weekends either at the beach or out hiking up one of the Coast’s picturesque mountain peaks – even though she has a fear of heights. That’s right, a fear of heights. “Unbridled fear. That’s what I feel when I’m standing at the base of the mountain looking up at what’s ahead of me. My heart rate soars, my palms become clammy and my arms and legs start to tremble. I can only liken it to the same feeling you get before speaking in public.” “But I love the challenge. I love the feeling of satisfaction I get once I’ve beaten my fear and completed the climb,” she said. In the same vein, Grace has had to face some of her toughest challenges and fears after making the move to the Sunshine Coast and finding herself jobless in a new city. Twenty-years-old, unemployed and having a host of bills to pay, Grace chose to take a risk, climb another mountain, and start a new career in nursing.
“I listened to them when they needed to talk things through. I became the friendly face next to their bedside, even when they didn’t recognise me. I was there for them no matter what they needed,” Grace said. After completing her Diploma earlier this year, Grace is now a Graduate Enrolled Nurse with Ramsay Health Care working in the Cardiology Ward at the Sunshine Coast University Private Hospital in the new Health Precinct at Kawana. “I care for people who’ve had heart attacks, are having chest pains or any other cardiac related issues,” Grace said.
“I monitor patient’s hearts and report to cardiologists so they can effectively diagnose the disease and determine the most appropriate recovery or management plan.” “The most important part of my role is to simply support people, be there for them, listen to them, and care for them. But it can be hard sometimes. We’re often caring for people who have received life altering news and we’re their only friend in the room as the doctor tells them their heart is failing.” “We help them through the shock of it all. We help them work through the fear, uncertainty and doubt of ‘what next’,” she said. Working at Ramsay, Grace appreciates how lucky she is to work with so many committed and highly skilled nurses. Her skills and training are now second nature and the scared student has blossomed into a capable, confident and caring professional. “I love nursing. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done,” Grace said. “To me, Ramsay’s philosophy of ‘People Caring for People’ is what nursing’s all about. I’ll be a nurse forever,” she said.
INTERESTED IN A CAREER IN
PHOTO OF BEC: AMANDA FIEDLER
HOW TO MAKE LIGHT WORK OF FIXING HEAVY VEHICLES “I remember walking on-site for the first time and
workshop inspecting, servicing, repairing and
being absolutely gobsmacked. The machines
maintaining a range of heavy vehicles,” she said.
are massive and the workshops are even bigger (obviously). The mine itself is just monstrous; I mean it’s a gigantic hole in the ground! I knew things were going to be big, but the sheer size of everything really blew me away. Mum always encouraged me to dream big… and here I am – I love it.”
While school is a way of life for all of us growing up, it’s not for everyone. Bec understood the importance of having an education but instead of being stuck inside learning about maths and science, she much preferred to be outside in the sunshine working with her hands to fix things.
After growing up in Howard, a small country town nestled in the Hervey Bay hinterland, TAFE Queensland East Coast graduate 26-year-old Bec Floss now works as a diesel fitter for Australia’s largest coal producer and exporter, BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA), at Peak Downs Mine in
“I did school differently. I completed a Certificate II in Automotive Mechanical at TAFE in Hervey Bay during Year 11 and went on to secure an apprenticeship with a local mechanic where I attained a Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical,” Bec said. “I liked getting paid while I studied, but
the Bowen Basin in Central Queensland.
more importantly I liked how my teacher customised
Bec spends her shifts climbing precariously like
my training to what I was interested in. Looking
a mountaineer over massive graders, dozers and scrappers to ensure some of the world’s largest mining machines are kept running around the clock. “I love my job. There’s nothing like the challenge of fixing things,” Bec explained. “I’ve always been mechanically minded. Mum was always so hands-on around the house. From servicing the car to fixing the mower, she was so resourceful. If something had to be done, she’d do it. I think I’m a lot like her,” she said.
back it’s really set me up for my work in the mine,” she said.
I love my job. There’s nothing like the challenge of fixing things. Working in the mining industry can be challenging and quite often requires tremendous stamina and passion to be successful. But Bec has a great team
The BMA mine at Peak Downs operates 24 hoursa-day, 365 days-a-year. Consequently, Bec and her crew must keep the machines running constantly; time is money and down-time is very costly.
behind her, supporting her to achieve her goals. “I’m lucky to be working alongside some really experienced mechanics,” Bec said. “My crew is amazing. They’re the best bunch of work-mates
“Being a diesel fitter is dirty, hard work and I love it.
anyone could possibly ask for. They’re so supportive
It’s all about technique, not physique. From busted
and generous with their time. I’ve learnt so much
pumps and control valves to leaking hydraulic
hoses, every day is totally different,” Bec said.
“There’s so many opportunities in the mining
“I work 12 hour shifts alternating days and nights on
industry. I’m so glad I made the decision to try
6/6 rounds (6 days on, 6 days off). We spend our
something different and interesting. Doing TAFE at
shifts either out in the ‘paddock’ fixing breakdowns
school helped me find my dream job and I couldn’t
and repairing machines at the coal face; or in the
be happier,” she said.
BEN NEDWICH A QUIET ACHIEVER WITH A BIG FUTURE
pend just five minutes with the 2016 Queensland Trainee of the Year, Ben Nedwich, and you’ll soon discover that he is a quiet achiever with a big future ahead of him. Ben, a business administration trainee with the Bundaberg Regional Council, was awarded the Trainee of the Year at this year’s prestigious Queensland Training Awards in Brisbane. But his success didn’t come over-night. His Trainee of the Year award is the product of a young life committed to family, work and community. In being recognised as Queensland’s best trainee in vocational education, Ben was praised for his professional skills, expertise and dedication and progressed to the Australian Training Awards in Darwin.
“I WAS CHALLENGED, SUPPORTED AND GUIDED – IT WAS AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE.” At just 20-years-old Ben already has a string of achievements as long as the Burnett Bridge [the heritage listed 412m metal truss road-traffic bridge built in 1900 which connects the town centre to North Bundaberg]. In 2016, he was named as the Sunrise Rotary TAFE Queensland East Coast Trainee/Apprentice of the Year and Overall Student of the Year; he was selected to attend a Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Camp; he was elected as Youth Delegate for the Bundaberg Police-Citizens Youth Club (PCYC); he joined Bundaberg Rotaract and the Bundaberg and Region Youth Council; and he won gold in Business Services at the WorldSkills Australia National Competition in Melbourne. While his success is undeniable, Ben remains incredibly humble and level headed. Perhaps this overwhelming sense of genuineness stems from his childhood growing up as one of three boys on a small crops farm near Bundaberg. “We all used to work on the family farm, helping wherever we could. We’d help Dad put in posts, prune vines and pick the fruit,” Ben said. “I learnt discipline from an early age
and I took great pride and satisfaction in contributing to the family business,” he said. Ben took up karate at 6-years-old. Applying the same work ethic and discipline he’d grown up with on the farm, he quickly rose through the ranks to become Queensland Karate Federation Champion – a title he held for six consecutive years. “Karate is a way of life,” Ben said. “It teaches you how to concentrate and how to deal with conflict. You learn amazing life skills and develop life-long friendships, but most importantly karate fosters a strong sense of unity and spirit – values I try to uphold every day,” he said. At 15-years-old Ben was selected to attend the PCYC State Youth Leadership Program where he learned the importance of leadership and the potential impact young people can have on their communities. Inspired and with a new sense of purpose, he pursued his interest and became a member of the PCYC Youth Management Team, a decision which would ultimately lead to his appointment as trainee with the Bundaberg Regional Council. “After I finished school I wanted to advance my skills and take on an active role in my community. The Council’s traineeship program offered me a unique opportunity to earn a wage, obtain a qualification and make a difference,” Ben said. “I was challenged, supported and guided – it was an amazing experience,” he said. To complement his traineeship, Ben completed a Certificate III in Business Administration at TAFE Queensland East Coast, which he believes has been pivotal to his success. “Assessments were not only customised to my industry, but also to my role at Council and the tasks I was responsible for,” Ben said. “It really opened my eyes to new and innovative ways of doing things. I learnt how to accurately organise and appropriately prioritise components of varying project phases. Business Administration provides people with an amazing foundation of skills which are transferable to any industry,” he said. Having completed his traineeship, Ben has accepted a permanent position at the Bundaberg Regional Council and intends to make a positive impact in the community. “I want to help inform the important decisions necessary to affect much needed change throughout our region,” he said. And no doubt, he will.
PHOTO SHEILA SISSONS PHOTOGRAPHY
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TAFE Queensland East Coast’s MAKE Magazine showcases our students’ success stories and achievements.