testimonials from previous industry scholars


Read some amazing stories about previous scholars and learn how an industry scholarship can help you through university and into a career.

The bell rings and children scramble from all corners of the playground, file into the classroom and throw their electrified bodies into designated seats. A vibrant young woman with a welcoming smile beams at the head of the class, in wait for her young charges to shake off the adrenalin of recent play and calm their minds to learn. 

This scene could be reminiscent of most classrooms across Australia on any given day - except it is not. 

The teacher, Industry Scholar alumnus and Bachelor of Arts (Secondary Teaching) graduate, Angela Parfitt, is in charge of the students that no other school will take on.

She works with teenagers at their most vulnerable, angry, disengaged and lost. This passion for making a difference in the education of disadvantaged students comes from deep within and has spurred on her studies.

Angela was the first recipient in the Faculty of Education and Arts to be awarded an Industry Scholarship. Not your typical student, Angel has overcome adversity.

She completed her placement at Youth Connections, an alternate education centre for disengaged youth in Kariong on the Central Coast.

The centre helps young people who may be not suitable for the high school environment or have spent time in juvenile detention centres transition to employment, education or trade training so they can become participants in their community.

"Some students can be very angry when you first meet them, it can be quite intimidating physically and emotionally, but you get used to it," she said.

Angela set herself one mission when she embarked on her university career – engaging youth.

As a mother of three boys, Angela already had a full schedule and her workload increased ten-fold when she enlisted as a mature-age university student.

She has now completed a Bachelor of Arts (Secondary Teaching) degree at the University of Newcastle's Ourimbah campus. In her final year, Angela elected to undertake the Special Education pathway, included as a second major.

"I think it is great to be able to nurture and hone my skills in an area I am so passionate about," Angela said.

Angela's choice to work with high school-aged children was inspired, she said, by the fact gaps are more prevalent there than in primary schools where the focus is on building blocks of a child's education.

"I like working with teenagers because you get the opportunity to change the negative and take your passion and fire it somewhere that can make a real difference," she said.

Growing up in the South West corner of NSW, Angela felt she was at a disadvantage in regards to education due to a lack of teaching resources in rural schools.

With some kindergarten teachers enlisted to deliver HSC subjects to the tiny class of 10 students, Angela saw this as a barrier to her success. It was this feeling of isolation that drove her passion for change and inspired Angela to pursue a career in teaching.

"I always wanted to be a teacher because I felt like I was unsuccessful in education, but I knew I was smart," Angela said.

"I felt my disadvantage was outback schooling. There is such a disparity between what education assistance and resources rural kids have access to in comparison to their city cousins," she said.

To bridge this gap between rural and city education opportunities, Angela says it starts with passionate teachers.

"You can feel quite small in a small town," she said.

"There is no shortage of people out there wishing they could do what I am doing and the message I want to tell them is they can, no matter what their age."

Throughout Katlin Reidy's university career she has travelled thousands of kilometres to complete a student exchange in the Czech Republic, mastered a new language and captained a cricket side with no knowledge of the game. But it is her role at the Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) that has given the Industry Scholar her biggest injection of confidence.

Kaitlin is currently completing a full year placement at RMS as an Engineering project support officer on several significant NSW roads developments.

"The value of immersing yourself in your future industry and knowing you can excel is second-to-none," Katilin said.

"I am at the front-end of some very substantial projects and it can be quite chaotic at times," she said. 

"You need to be able to adapt and deal with multiple issues at once, that is the nature of RMS."

Rather than be daunted, the Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) student has relished the challenges that her full year placement with RMS has afforded her – even captaining her department's cricket team. 

"That was a fun team building day! I fit in quite well around the department and am learning so much from the team and my managers. They have even taught me how to play cricket, which I thought nearly impossible for such a cricket novice."

During her placement, Kaitlin has supported project works on several significant engineering projects with multiple stakeholders, the RMS are involved in many "alliance projects". These include the Kempsey Bypass; Hunter Expressway; and West Connect, a significant road design that will support a new world class hospital on Sydney's Northern Beaches.

"The hospital is being built at Frenchs Forest; a high profile project attracting the spotlight from the government and a strong public interest. It is critical to the success of the project that issues like access, flood mitigation and road upgrades be perfect," Kaitlin said. "We needed a non-traditional approach. I grew up around there and was able to use my local knowledge and apply the technical skills I have learnt in my degree to make an impact. I have learnt so much already."

Kaitlin's manager, RMS Senior Project Development Manager, Richard Hine, said Kaitlin has been very capable of taking on any task, learning skills that will advance her future career. "These are significant and complicated tasks that Kaitlin has successfully completed," Mr Hine said.

"We see industry scholarships that include work placement as a chance to make an investment in the industry, but it is not just an investment for us, but also in Kaitlin's career."

When Emma Hafey, first walked onto site at the Hunter Expressway upgrade, it was hard for her to imagine all the rocks and rubble would one day make up the vital four-lane freeway link between the Valley and Newcastle.

Today, the Bachelor of Engineering (Surveying) student stands atop one of the $1.7 billion project's newly constructed bridges, looking down on a near-complete expressway with a sense of achievement.

"It really is amazing that at this level in my career, I get to see a job all the way through from start to finish," Emma said.

"People can be in the industry for several years and not be that lucky."

As one of the few females in her chosen field, Emma has taken a non-traditional path in a surveying career.

Traditional surveying is usually working on homes, land boundaries and other residential jobs, but this work is that next step up. Here, the mistakes can cost millions.

"But I like pressure situations, so this suits me," she said.

The project, run by Hunter firm Abigroup, will deliver the 26.5 kilometre section of the Hunter Expressway between Kurri Kurri and Branxton. The upgrade of this section allows motorists to bypass Maitland, Lochinvar and Greta, cutting out vital commuter time between Newcastle and the Upper Valley.

The full-year placement through Abigroup will be the 'edge' when entering the competitive workforce post graduation, Emma believes. "The Industry Scholarship has made a huge difference to what I have learnt and will now be able to achieve in my career," she said. "I would feel very overwhelmed and underprepared were it if not for this scholarship. It is too daunting without experience."

That experience includes using full robotic equipment on site, understanding the site control network and GPS positioning network and the latest technology in surveying instruments.

But it is the trust and freedom afforded to her by her superiors that has given Emma the belief she can complete tasks far beyond her experience level.

"You are continuously thrown in the deep end. But it is the best way to learn," she said.

"There is that initial moment of panic, but in reality, your supervisors know you are ready even before you realise it. You just have to trust that they trust you."