Congrats to Simon Watts – nominated for Vocational Student of the Year in the 2020 Victorian Training Awards

Monday, 27 July 2020

Congratulations to Simon Watts, who has been nominated for Vocational Student of the Year in this year’s Victorian Training Awards. Simon studied the Diploma of Community Services with Wodonga TAFE, and was awarded as a ‘2019 Student of the Year’ at our Celebration of Achievement Awards late last year.

Prior to retraining in community services, Simon made his living through his passion of riding bicycles, as a bicycle mechanic in the retail industry. Because of his reputation in the bike world, in 2010 Simon was asked to be a founding member of a not-for-profit organisation, Border Community Cycleworks.

“It began with a simple idea, as a way to support the community by supplying bicycles to people in need for free. Our mission statement of 'On The Border, Community Cycle, Works’ saw us repairing bicycles donated by the general public, then giving them away to people in need, which supplied them with much needed transportation, exercise, rehabilitation and fun. I also developed and ran a bicycle education program which was delivered in local primary schools with the assistance of the Wodonga council, to keep at-risk kids engaged.”

Simon soon found he loved this community engagement and this experience which then led him into wanting to learn more and educate himself. He said that while facilitating the bike project and seeing the positive impact of change on young people, he wanted to extend this into a career change.

“The community services diploma at Wodonga TAFE allowed me to develop the professional and empathetic skills needed to work in a role where I coordinate and deliver person-centred services and programs, and work directly with clients. I am currently working for Junction Support Services, working in out of home residential care. The care team I work with supports young people that cannot live in their family home on a daily basis. It makes a genuine difference to their lives. I still volunteer repairing, donating, and engaging the community with Border Community Cycleworks as this is my passion project.”

Simon is very open about his training experiences, and said that when he talks to others about his training, he tells them he found it hard at times but ultimately, that it was a great experience.

“Going into the course with some doubt and anxiety as I hadn't studied for over 15 years was hard. However, I was eager to learn and took every opportunity to step outside my comfort zone, sitting at a different table every class, and always volunteering for role plays and readings. I found the support of teachers and staff at Wodonga TAFE fantastic. I pass on the advice given to me, ask for help, plan, and work at it bit by bit, anyone can achieve great things and better themselves by studying. You can find passion through learning.”

And Simon said that finishing what he set out to do is a powerful feeling.

“I would definitely recommend this to others unsure of what to do, to follow their interest, to do a course to better themselves - that sense of achievement is huge.”

We wish Simon all the best with his VTA nomination, and are very proud of his achievements!


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