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Study grants help sow the seeds for a new future

22 Mar 2013

For over 30 years Lynda Fitzpatrick has had a passion for growing plants and now, with a little help from NMIT's Study Grants Program, she is a little closer to realising a new career in educating children and their families about the holistic benefits of organic horticulture and gardening.

“I was inspired on this journey by a friend who works as a nurse at the Royal Talbot Hospital with patients who have an acquired bran injury,” recalls Lynda. “He has combined his career as a nurse with a passion for gardening and created a sensory garden for patients as part of their recovery therapy. Watching the patients gain a sense of achievement from working in that garden has really spurred me on to do something to make a difference in the world. But, I need to be qualified to be taken seriously.”

Lynda has now committed to full-time study this year in NMIT's Diploma of Ornamental Horticulture at the Institute's Fairfield campus.

“I still have to work two days a week (one of which is a Saturday) as we have three kids and a mortgage. Balancing the finances is always tricky and we have pulled in the purse strings very tightly for 2012 with my reduced income.”

Lynda says the $1000 study grant, sponsored by Collingwood based GJK Facility Services, will “cover a big chunk of the fees for me, reducing some of that financial pressure and maybe giving me a Saturday or two off to spend time with my kids.”

“I feel very strongly about educating our children about growing fresh food ... that peas come from plants not a freezer bag and that you don't need to add preservatives or additives for flavour ... just try fresh instead,” says Lynda whose passion for plants and gardening extends to a number of other activities including the Kitchen Garden Program at her son's school, herb garden makeovers and working with Bunnings (Northland) to reduce their wastage of green-life by recycling their 'unsaleable' crop plants as donations to local schools, nursing homes and kindergartens.

“I think the relationship between growing crops, our health and the health of the environment has huge benefits for our children and their future, so somehow I am going to be the 'megaphone' for that message.”

Lynda received her award last night at the annual NMIT Study Grants Presentation evening held at the Preston campus conference centre. She joined 117 other students who received grants ranging from $1000 to $10,000 in value including four students who each received grants in excess of $5000 to fund further study, either interstate or overseas.
The evening was attended by NMIT staff (including new CEO - Dr Andy Giddy), students and their families, plus award sponsors and guests including Darebin Deputy Mayor, Cr Diana Asmar, and CEO of Ararat City Council - Andrew Evans.
Grants to a total value of $166, 305 were presented during the evening with approximately eighty percent of recipients nominated by their respective NMIT teaching department in recognition of students' academic performance, commitment to their studies and chosen industry. The remainder were awarded through an Open category in which students could nominate for an award.

The numerous grant winners recognised during the evening had interesting and varied life stories that led them to study at NMIT including:
• a photography student who has dreamed of becoming a professional photographer since her father gave her his old Kodak pocket camera when she was ten-years-old.
• an equine stud management student whose childhood love of horses was rekindled during Year 12.
• an agriculture student who plans to use his award to fund further specialised training in sheep handling and cattle breeding as well as purchasing a special dog pen so his cattle dogs can ride safely on the back of his ute.
• a music student realising a long held dream to study music and who plans to use his award toward the purchase of a Jazz guitar.

Since 1996 NMIT students have been awarded over $2.4 million through the Institute's Study Grants Program. The program is funded by numerous external sponsors, many of whom are local businesses in the northern region. Sponsors fund either individual awards or via the NMIT Industry Foundation. In 2012 NMIT's Faculty of Earth Sciences also directly funded selected awards.

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Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener, on (03) 92691579, 0413 483 182 or

NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) - Situated on six campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne's north plus a regional campus at Ararat, NMIT delivers vocational training, higher education and lifelong learning capabilities for a global workforce. NMIT forges partnerships with community, industry and government to produce practical, solution orientated graduates capable of making meaningful contributions to their chosen field of endeavour.

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