Congratulations to the finalists in the Box Hill Institute 2021 Student of the Year Awards! The Student of the Year Awards is a special event that recognises the efforts and commitment of our incredible student cohort. In the countdown to our awards night on Tuesday 21 June at Federation Square we invite you to learn more about our finalists as we highlight their talents.
Higher Education Student of the Year
Vocational Student of the Year
Apprentice of the Year – 1st Year
Apprentice of the Year – 2nd Year
Apprentice of the Year – 3rd Year
Apprentice of the Year – Final Year
International Student of the Year (Offshore)
Indigenous Student of the Year
Shona Armstrong, Bachelor of Biosecurity Science
Shona enrolled in the Bachelor of Biosecurity Science as a mature-age student and brought with her intelligence, maturity and perseverance to study and succeed in class, assessments and during remote learning. Shona’s nominator says she is an exceptional student, achieving High Distinctions in all subjects so far. Her competent writing, coherency in understanding concepts, and willingness to undertake further research on topics are excellent and her oral presentations are very professional. Shona understands the importance of class preparation and is always very engaged and insightful. Even though she has a busy life, Shona still finds time to be actively engaged with the course, participating in the 2021 students’ focus group, and leading the group this year.
Gulam Kibria Khadem, Bachelor of Community Services
Gulam completed the Bachelor of Community Services. He was an international student and faced many challenges over the past few years with aplomb and fortitude. His teachers describe his enthusiasm and dedication as inspirational. He was a regular contributor in class and provided his lecturers with thought-provoking discussions which motivated others to engage in a positive manner. Gulam achieved distinctions and high distinctions in his assessments. He embodies the principles of community services in that he is deeply concerned with issues of justice and human rights. Gulam is just beginning his placement in youth work and his nominator believes that with his high emotional intelligence he will be a wonderful community service worker and an exemplary ambassador for BHI.
Tiani Welch-Phillips, Bachelor of Early Childhood Education
Tiani is a regularly active participant in all aspects of the course. She was selected for a study tour to New Zealand in 2019 and was an excellent ambassador for BHI during that tour. Tiani took on the additional role of domestic student representative on our Course Advisory Committee. She actively canvassed the students and brought all feedback and suggestions to her teacher and the committee. Tiani is an enthusiastic student, participating actively in class, and raising questions to further explore topics of discussion for which she feels she needs more knowledge. Tiani is a thoughtful and respectful person and actively tries to exemplify inclusive practices with her fellow students. She is incredibly supportive and caring and is not afraid to raise anything with staff to assist students.
Amanda Berryman, Certificate III in Hairdressing
Amanda is a mature-age student and chose to study hairdressing after leaving her previous career during COVID-19. She has always loved hair and was nominated for her drive and enthusiasm as she embraced learning her new craft. Amanda is already working in a salon to support her studies and is known for her positive energy and outlook. Of her BHI course, Amanda says she likes learning about the science of hair, the creative aspect and building relationships in the salon. She has built her confidence at BHI and says it’s never too late to change your career. “If you put your mind to it, you can give anything a go,” she says. Outside of study, Amanda likes going to the gym, rowing, travelling, cooking, cake decorating and is involved in her kids’ sporting communities.
Brooke Hutchinson, Certificate IV Outdoor Leadership and Certificate IV Guiding
Brooke was dux of her school and after VCE completed a communications degree at university. However, after working in an office job, she realised that it wasn’t for her. The great outdoors was calling, and she enrolled in the Certificate IV Outdoor Leadership and Certificate IV Guiding at BHI and never looked back. Her nominator said that Brooke’s assignments were always outstanding and well presented. Her bubbly enthusiasm saw her take on volunteer roles including the ‘We Can Ride’ Program which taught kids how to ride mountain bikes; she was a significant role model for young females in the program. Brooke is now freelancing in the Outdoor industry and is highly active on social media about the Outdoor Education Industry and her invaluable time at Box Hill Institute. She is passionate about the outdoors and is actively involved in promoting conservation and volunteers at an Outdoor activities club.
Christene Podger, Diploma of Graphic Design, (currently completing the Advanced Diploma of Graphic Design)
Christene completed a Diploma of Education and Care and was working in childcare when COVID-19 hit. She reassessed her passions and enrolled in the Diploma of Graphic Design at BHI. Christene was inspired by the passion, support and guidance of her teachers and she gained the confidence to pursue a graphic design career. Her nominator said Christene is a very motivated and passionate student who always submitted work to an extremely high standard. She won various awards at BHI including being a two-time winner in the graphic design segment of the Creative Cup, a finalist in the WorldSkills Australia competition and she had her work included in Manifest magazine. When Christene completes her Advanced Diploma of Graphic Design, she wants to do some work in the educational resources space. Outside of study, Christene enjoys exploring new art styles to extend her creativity and is actively involved in community fundraising and advocating for causes that are important to her.
Cristina Rojas, Certificate IV in Mental Health
Cristina left her corporate job and enrolled in the Certificate IV in Mental Health at BHI to learn more in this field. She thrived academically in her course and was a standout leader within her cohort making strong connections and friendships. Integrating her corporate skills with her new mental health skills, she was offered a job in the new State-run Mental Health & Wellbeing Hub, run by EACH. She has a natural ability to keep calm in a crisis and a passion to make a difference. Cristina returned to BHI to speak to the new Mental Health students and encouraged them to engage on a professional and personal learning journey during the course. She is currently completing an Honours degree in Social Work at RMIT and wants to set up a mental health support service. Cristina also volunteers in different community groups including the Mullum Mullum Indigenous community group, as an SES crew member in Maroondah, and fosters animals for the Lost Dogs home.
Alexandra Calcraft, Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology
After completing a pre-apprenticeship course at BHI and securing an apprenticeship with Etheridge Ford, Alex is now studying the Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology. Her nominator commends her enthusiastic, courteous nature, and says she stands out amongst her peers as a quick learner and shows signs of becoming an outstanding student in the automotive faculty. As a quiet achiever, she studies hard, is popular with her peers, shares her knowledge and shows confidence in practical tasks. Following her passion and interest in cars from an early age, Alex is a natural in this male-dominated industry. She has career aspirations of one day opening her own service workshop catering to women and minority groups. Alex’s passion for cars means she is working on her car and her friends' cars in her spare time. She also won an award in the Rotary Club of Forest Hill Ford Davis Award through BHI last year.
Josh Money, Certificate III in Plumbing
Josh decided on a career in plumbing after working for six years in a plumbing supply warehouse. As a mature-age student at BHI, he was pleased to discover a range of students of different ages and the welcoming and supportive staff. Josh’s nominator describes him as full of energy and wanting to learn as much as possible. He adds that it’s enlightening to find someone with so much enthusiasm, who shows great application and has a splendid work ethic. Josh interacts well with his trade school peers and sets an excellent example. Josh says he appreciates the wide variety of areas he can work in with a mechanical plumbing qualification. “It was the best decision I've ever made to go back to school and eventually get the career I desired.” Outside of study, Josh loves playing footy and cricket and has held leadership positions within his community sporting clubs.
Timothy White, Certificate III in Plumbing
Tim completed a plumbing pre-apprenticeship five years ago but then put his plumbing career on hold as he wasn’t ready to continue. After succeeding in overcoming a few life challenges, he enrolled in the Certificate III in Plumbing as a mature-age student, while working for Specialised Plumbing and Drainage. Tim’s nominator praises his leadership qualities in his group of students. He is always willing to aid his teachers in cleaning the workshop and helping fellow students with difficult tasks. His work is of a high standard, and his teacher says he is always punctual and uses his time effectively and efficiently. Tim enjoys the practical side of his studies and has learnt the importance of networking and making industry connections. He says that one day he aims to start his own plumbing company. Outside of study, Tim volunteers as a speaker for Narcotics Anonymous.
Cong Guo, Certificate III in Electrotechnology
After migrating to Australia in 2019 to pursue a better life, Cong completed the Certificate II in Electrotechnology at BHI and found a part-time job with an electrical company. Within two months, he commenced his apprenticeship and the Certificate III. Cong found that speaking and listening to English was his biggest challenge, so he studies English online every day after work. Cong’s goal has never changed; he wants to acquire solid knowledge so that he can become an excellent electrician. He enjoys the theoretical part of his course, understanding why things are done and appreciates the knowledge and support of his teachers. Cong won a Chris Arnost ‘Stay Focused’ and ‘Encouragement’ Scholarship through BHI last year and said he would never forget Chris Arnost’s name as it was “an honour to receive the scholarship” and it will inspire him to achieve his career goal. In his spare time, Cong enjoys badminton and volunteers as an umpire.
Mauro Zappone, Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology
Mauro (Max) has had a passion for cars from an early age. He joined BHI as a pre-apprentice student and thrived in the BHI learning environment. After completing his Certificate II in Automotive Servicing Technology, he secured a job at Ringwood Nissan and enrolled in the Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology. Mauro’s nominator says he is always punctual, courteous, enthusiastic in class and a very quick learner who is showing himself to be an outstanding student in the automotive faculty. Mauro’s teacher receives particularly good reviews about Mauro’s work performance from his service manager at the dealership and Mauro provides his teachers with feedback on the quality of the course and industry updates based on his experiences at the dealership. One day Mauro would like to open his own workshop. Outside of study, he enjoys cars, going to the gym and the stock market.
Bailey Blundell, Certificate III in Hairdressing
In 2019 Bailey was in Year 11 and working as a salon assistant in a hairdressing salon. She had not considered hairdressing as a career, but she soon started to love it, and decided to commence a school-based apprenticeship. She worked hard and at the end of 2020, she became a full-time apprentice at Becca Hair and Beauty in Heathmont and will complete her apprenticeship and the entire course off-campus this year. She particularly enjoys the hands-on aspect, client assessment and colour. Bailey says she was encouraged by her BHI teachers to take on responsibility and believe in herself. Bailey is looking to further her education by completing a Certificate IV and hopes to open her own business one day. Outside of work and study, she enjoys spending time with family, and playing and coaching basketball.
Rohnan Donahue, Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology
Rohnan has always been interested in cars and bought his first project car at 14 years old. He is a fourth-year apprentice working full-time at Nunawading Jeep and will complete his Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology apprenticeship this year. Described by his teacher as having a strong study ethic, Rohnan displays courtesy, and punctuality and has a curiosity for new knowledge. He completes assigned tasks with dedicated focus and enthusiasm and has always been an active learner, and a great communicator providing valuable feedback. He gets on well with the other students and his teachers. Rohnan appreciates the knowledge his teachers impart and the whole BHI experience. In years to come, Rohnan says he might consider specialising in automatic transmissions or engine building. Outside of his apprenticeship, he enjoys working on his cars and his friends’ cars, camping, and has a leadership role with Rover Scouts.
Jade Brandreth, Certificate III in Plumbing
Jade is a mature-age plumbing apprentice and is originally from South Africa. His apprenticeship is with a commercial plumbing company during the day, and he has a second job at night to support his wife and two young children. Jade’s nominator says he is a wonderful mentor to all the students in the plumbing department and those younger students in his class. He continually offers advice to those who need it and is respectful to everyone. His strong work ethic means he is on time for class every day. Jade finished his training in March and plans to get registered this year and become a fully licenced plumber and gas fitter with a view to starting his own business or taking over his dad’s business. Outside of study he is involved in his kids' sports, plays squash, and enjoys movies.
Thomas Durant, Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology
Thomas joined BHI as a VET (Vocational Education and Training) in Schools (VETIS) student in the Certificate II in the Automotive Vocational Preparation program. After excelling in this program, he then enrolled in the Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology program while doing an apprenticeship at Walkermotive Tyres and Auto in Warburton. Thomas’s teacher says that although he was young (21 years old) in his fourth year, he was a very keen student with a thirst for knowledge and he enjoyed the friendships he made with teachers and students. With a huge passion for cars, motorbikes and motorsport, Thomas’s future employment ambitions include working for Porsche, running a tuning business for modified cars, and one day joining a Formula 1 race team.
Nathan Wehlauer, Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology, Licensed Vehicle Tester Training Scheme (LVTTS)
From an early age, Nathan loved problem-solving, fixing things and cars, so a career as an automotive technician was a natural progression. Nathan’s nominator describes him as an outstanding student. He was an active learner, always providing valuable feedback, answering questions accurately and actively seeking more knowledge. His teacher received excellent reports from his employer, who says he took initiative and worked with minimum supervision. As a team player with a friendly personality, he was popular with both students and teachers. Nathan completed the Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology Apprenticeship program as well as the Licensed Vehicle Tester Training Scheme (LVTTS) course at the youthful age of 24 years old. His dream of owning his own business has eventuated with Nathan opening Henderson Euro Service Centre. “I started from scratch and now I’m absolutely flat out and loving it,” he said.
Eloise Goodall, Certificate III Early Childhood Education and Care
Eloise completed her traineeship in 2021 as an employee of our BHI Lilydale Lakeside Children's Centre. Her nominator says she was an organised, punctual, and well-spoken person who would often instigate group discussions. Eloise embraced her learning journey by asking questions and seeking feedback. She also extended her skills and knowledge to her peers when required. Her nominator commended her ability to continue working and studying during the COVID-19 lockdowns and produce work of a consistently high standard, adding that Eloise would regularly go the extra mile with her responses to assist in her learning. Eloise is a valued member of the team at the Lakeside Children’s Centre.
Isabelle Papadopoulos, Certificate IV in Outdoor Leadership
Isabelle excelled in the Certificate IV in Outdoor Leadership program. She was highly self-motivated, proactive, and diligent. During the COVID-19 affected year, Isabelle would go out and improve her activity skills on her own, so that her abilities in the Outdoor Activities were easy and fluid in class after lockdown. She was always the first to submit written assignments, constantly seeking feedback and clarification where required. Her high standard of work is now the benchmark for those who follow. Isabelle is now freelancing in Outdoor Education and is highly sought after. Her superior skillset and ability are already acknowledged in the industry.
Kaylah Ross, Certificate IV in Hospitality
Kaylah works at the Anglesea Golf Club managing the bistro and it was her boss who encouraged her to complete her Certificate IV in Hospitality. Kaylah’s nominator describes her as a vibrant and very enthusiastic student, saying she is highly motivated and loves her job in hospitality. Completing the course has boosted Kaylah’s confidence and given her leadership skills and the knowledge to drive an amazing team of employees. Kaylah’s teacher said she could always express in-depth knowledge on class topics and has a great work ethic in both her job and studies. One day Kaylah would like to start her own business and outside of work, she enjoys artistic pursuits including painting and drawing.
Sophia Dutch, VCE
Sophia had previously completed VCE subjects in Art but a change in career direction led her to BHI to complete Maths and Chemistry with a view to studying medicine. She found her experience at BHI to be supportive, welcoming, and inclusive with her teachers working outside of hours to help the students achieve their goals. Sophia’s nominator describes her as a hardworking dedicated student who achieved her goal in 2021 with an ATAR of 95.8. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Banking and Finance at Monash and may consider post-graduate Medicine in the future. She held several leadership roles at high school including being a school ambassador for new families, a student mentor, and was house and drama captain. Outside of study, Sophia enjoys seeing drama productions, studying French, and playing badminton.
Rain Philp, Senior VCAL
Rain started at BHI as a shy student lacking in confidence according to their nominator. Rain was not able to reach their full potential in a traditional school environment however upon starting at BHI they were soon impressed by the genuine care and interest shown by their teachers. Rain said, “BHI changed my mind set on education” and they “found a new love for learning.” With perseverance, effective communication skills and maturity, they soared and realised successful outcomes in 2021 and will complete year 12 in 2022. Rain engenders respect in both staff and students. This was evidenced in the workshop Rain facilitated for 55 BHI staff in 2021 which was very well received. Rain’s nominator says they developed fantastic employability skills, shared their community commitment and engagement with everyone engendering a greater sense of the VCAL and BHI community. Outside of study, Rain was actively involved with promoting FReeZA and is a member of the Maroondah Youth Wellbeing Advocates.
Joshua Doyle, Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology
Joshua is studying the Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology. His nominator describes him as a bright, happy, and talented student with the potential to become a great automotive technician. His punctuality, easy-going manner and active engagement in class make him a wonderful team player. He enjoys learning new things and eagerly shares his work experiences with his peers. Joshua was runner up in the WorldSkills Australia Regional Competition in his first year of VET in Schools. He is working as an apprentice at the Porsche Centre Doncaster and in his spare time, Joshua volunteers at the Seymour Railway Heritage Centre where he helps restore heavy mechanical locomotives.
Rachael Rose, Certificate II in Applied Fashion Design and Technology
Rachel completed the Certificate II in Applied Fashion Design and Technology as a year 12 student. As a self-confessed fashion addict, she has always been interested in fashion trends and clothes, which sparked her interest in learning more about the design and production process in the fashion industry. Rachel’s nominator described her as a very dedicated student who always put in the time and effort to do her best, resulting in her producing amazing work that was well above the required standard. Armed with an excellent work ethic, she would always submit on or before time and participate in extra make-up classes despite not requiring them. Rachel plans to pursue a career in visual communications, such as graphic design. She enjoys reading, swimming, and sewing outside of study.
Dedo Sarik, Certificate II in Applied Fashion Design and Technology
Dedo completed the Certificate II in Applied Fashion Design and Technology at BHI and is currently undertaking the Bachelor in Fashion. His passion for fashion is evident in his talent, careful attention to detail and high standard of work according to his nominator who believes that Dedo has the potential to be an extraordinary designer and a name to watch for in the future. Dedo was liked by other students and happy to guide classmates who needed extra help. His final dress submission was outstanding with the “seams perfect to the millimetre” according to his nominator. Dedo is also a personal shopper for women in Thailand looking for high-end brands and says his mother is his fashion muse who inspires everything he makes. He has career aspirations to start his own label and showcase his designs and creative ideas.
Dinuka Appuhamy, Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology, Certificate IV in Mechanical Diagnosis, Diploma in Mechanical Technology
Dinuka completed a Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology, a Certificate IV in Mechanical Diagnosis, and a Diploma in Mechanical Technology. Originally from Sri Lanka, Dinuka set high standards for himself as an international student by sitting at the front of class, asking questions to improve his knowledge, and prioritising his studies. He worked well in the team settings and was always happy to share his experiences in industry with students and teachers. His teacher praised his positive attitude, punctuality, and polite, happy demeanour. Dinuka’s excellent work ethic paid off and he secured a full-time technician job at Waverly Toyota. His career plan is to one day become a head mechanic of a workshop. Outside of study Dinuka enjoys camping and photography.
Shiraz Khan, Bachelor of Early Childhood Education
Shiraz has always wanted to become a teacher. He is completing the Bachelor of Early Childhood Education which he thoroughly enjoys and attributes his newfound confidence to the BHI lecturers. Shiraz took on the role of international student representative on the Course Advisory Committee and he ensures that he talks to all the international students within the course to accurately represent their voices. He has also assisted international students integrate into BHI and Australian life. His unique perspective as a male in a female dominated profession, and as an international student is reflected in his valuable class contributions. Shiraz is well respected in his workplace and is considering further studies in primary school education.
W.S. Sewmini Tissera, Bachelor of Hospitality Management
As a child Sewmini dreamed of running her own hotel. She is one step closer after completing her Bachelor of Hospitality at BHI. Sewmini’s nominator says she was an outstanding academic student, with an excellent attitude and behaviour. Out of 23 subjects in this degree, she received 13 high distinctions and 7 distinctions and won a marketing award. She contributed to class discussions and activities, was a team leader for many projects and maintained a good disposition. After completing her internship at the Pullman Hotel in Albert Park, Sewmini received a job offer from the hotel and is now working at the Front Desk. In Sri Lanka, Sewmini was active in her local community with an organisation called Scout doing social and environmental work.
Ghena Aldabbas, Diploma of Interior Design and Decoration, Box Hill College Kuwait
Ghena completed the Diploma of Interior Design at Box Hill College Kuwait, achieving an incredible straight A result as well as producing a professional standard portfolio. The most enjoyable part of the course for Ghena was the way in which the students and teachers would often participate in discussions from different perspectives. She says that “motivated me to work harder and expand the limits of my thinking to come up with new and innovative ideas.” Her next goal is to obtain her Bachelor of Interior Design and then to be responsible for complete projects in the interior design field. Outside of study, Ghena likes to spend time with family and enjoys watching English television series to improve her vocabulary. She is also a talented artist and model maker.
Van Tingjun, Biochemistry, Guangdong Food and Drug Vocational College
Van is a hard-working, quick-thinking student who listens attentively, speaks actively, and takes initiative in practical classes. He chose to study at BHI as he had a strong interest in biochemistry and found the course content to be very worthwhile. Van is a class monitor and helps liaise between the foreign teacher and the class students to convey task requirements. He is punctual and interacts well with his students and teachers. He received a letter of praise from his Australian teachers and won other awards including academic scholarships. Van has held several leadership positions including serving as the chairperson of the student union of the international school and being a team leader and class monitor. He is active in his local community including volunteering whenever there is a need, for example, he helped with epidemic prevention and control. Outside of study, Van enjoys swimming, kung fu, and baseball.
Li Yuqi, Pharmaceutical Manufacturing, Shanghai Pharmaceutical School
Li is a lively, cheerful, and confident student who enjoys making friends and social activities. She has achieved excellent academic results in her Pharmaceutical Manufacturing course in Shanghai and received the honorary title of ‘Outstanding Student’ every semester. Her nominator commends her natural curiosity, language and writing abilities as well as her passion for life and learning. She has strong leadership skills and has held several leadership positions within the Communist Youth League in her college. In class, Li has volunteered for various projects including helping on first-year registration day, planning league day activities, and happily helping fellow students in class. Li has also won many external awards in her vocational college both individually and as part of a team.
Tamas Ganya, Certificate III in Carpentry
Tamas is a third-year carpenter's apprentice, following in his dad's footsteps. His nominator says that Tamas feels competent that he can handle all aspects of carpentry such as putting up a frame and building a gazebo. He said, “just give him a plan and he can build it!” Tamas likes to mentor the younger apprentices and show them how things are done. He has provided training in woodwork and carpentry to the Indigenous community through a workshop at the Mullum Mullum Indigenous Gathering Place to inspire other Indigenous youth to take up the trade. In the future, he would like to open his own business and employ staff of all ethnicities. Outside of study, Tamas enjoys a healthy lifestyle and going to the gym.