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From Myanmar To Australia – Van Lights Up and Wins Award


Box Hill Institute student, Van Sui Thawng, won the School Based Apprentice of the Year in the 2020 Victorian Training Awards. He said it feels like a dream and he never thought he was capable of winning such an award. He said, "I was just happy to have a job and a school where it's safe and educational for me – but I did try my best all the time."

Van entered the Victorian Training Awards with a push from his teachers at Head Start, as they knew he was a worthy candidate, and with the support of his employers and co-workers. He went on to represent Victoria in the Australian Training Awards, which was a very high-pressure moment, but it taught him a lot more about himself. He said, "I was definitely more comfortable speaking in front of people that I had never met before. Overall, it was sure a pleasure to represent Victoria at such an event."

Van started his journey with Box Hill Institute when he enrolled to study a Certificate III in Electrical in 2020 through the Head Start program, which allows students to spend more time doing important, paid, on-the-job training while completing their VCE or VCAL at school. He is working with electrical contracting group GID Electrical, a well-respected company in the industry employing over 30 'A' Grade electricians and growing.

Van was inspired to enrol in an electrical course because he wants to be able to decorate his own house and cars in the future, "putting in cool lights and automatic doors”. He has learned to do essential electrical work and theory and enjoys his studies. He’s looking forward to learning the more advanced skills in years ahead.

As a School Based Apprentice, Van studied at Yarra Hills Secondary College and was looking for a career that would last him a lifetime. Initially, juggling secondary school and an apprenticeship was a challenge. He said, "It was hard at the start because I live pretty far away from Box Hill Institute, so I had to wake up early and catch public transport to travel into campus.”

One of Van’s proudest projects was a light he made at from scratch using scraps of metal, wires, diffusers and LED lights to light up a stairway.

Coming from a refugee background, Van says it is his family that keeps him going. He said, "I'm the luckiest member of my family. I’ve had such great opportunities and I don't want to let my family down."

His advice for other students from refugee backgrounds is to do something they are passionate about it, not just something that will make them a lot of money.

Congratulations Van on achieving this incredible award and for doing your best in whatever comes your way!