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TAFE graduates celebrate 100 years 1 million memories and a new song

25 May 2012

For over 400 graduates and 1200 guests seated in the Melbourne Town Hall last night, the NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) annual Graduation Ceremony held special significance.

As well as awarding diploma, advanced diploma and bachelor degree qualifications to the graduates, the ceremony was a milestone in the history of NMIT and vocational education in Victoria.

This year marks 100 years since Mathew Richmond, the newly appointed Principal of Collingwood Technical School (NMIT's predecessor), strode up and down Johnston Street one chilly July evening ringing a cowbell.

Richmond hadn't lost his senses; he was, in fact, practising an early 20th century form of direct marketing in a desperate effort to attract students to his fledgling technical school. One hundred years on, and in a recently 'contestable' vocational education market subject to government reform initiatives, Victorian TAFEs may yet need to dust off their cowbells.

Top Australian songwriter performs world debut of new song

A major highlight of the evening was the official address by Melbourne singer/writer/actor, Clare Bowditch. Clare spoke about her own journey through post-secondary education and how she ultimately reconnected with her love of making music. She congratulated the graduates on completing their own academic journeys including overcoming the inevitable obstacles and making the necessary sacrifices in order to achieve success … “it wasn't always easy but you did it”.

She also reminded the audience that “TAFE changes people for the better … it changes lives” and noted that part of her journey toward realising a career as a performing artist including completing a Certificate IV in Small Business at TAFE.

Clare also treated the audience to the world debut of her new song entitled 'Amazing Life' from her forthcoming (as yet untitled) album.

“It's a gentle folk song and although most of it was written when I was 21 years old, it was completed this year,” said Bowditch. “The song is about finding our place in the world, about learning to walk before we run, and about the power of making decisions and being courageous.”

The song was a most appropriate choice and no doubt struck a chord with many of the graduates in the audience for whom graduation represents the end of one journey and the beginning of another.

Also recognised during the evening were many NMIT 'offshore' graduates who completed their studies at NMIT's 25 partner institutions across Asia.

Outstanding Student of the Year Category Awards

During the evening, 10 NMIT students were presented with Outstanding Student of the Year Awards (across 10 specialist categories) by Mr Tony Fry of the Scanlon Foundation:

Outstanding Student of the Year - Apprentice/Trainee: Brittany McKeon
Outstanding Student of the Year - Faculty of Earth Sciences: Martin Webb
Outstanding Student of the Year - Indigenous: Wazana Maza
Outstanding Student of the Year - Faculty of Business: Li Chen
Outstanding Student of the Year - Faculty of Hospitality, Tourism and Personal Services: Constantina Tsiounis
Outstanding Student of the Year - Faculty of Building and Construction: Gojko Mitrovic
Outstanding Student of the Year - Faculty of Further Education: Rajika Agampodi
Outstanding Student of the Year - Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences: Sydney Levin
Outstanding Student of the Year - Faculty of Engineering: Asha Nicholas
Outstanding Student of the Year - Higher Education: Zero Scar

NMIT 2012 overall Outstanding Student of the Year

Each year, NMIT recognises an individual student whose academic performance, skill and dedication to their field stands out from their peers. This student is honoured as the NMIT Outstanding Student of the Year and the award is not announced until Graduation Evening. Last night, Diploma of Interactive Digital Media graduate, Li Chen, was named NMIT 2012 Outstanding Student of the Year.

“It was really a surprise … very exciting,” said Li on the news of his award. “There are a lot of people doing good work and I think I'm the lucky one.”

After completing his NMIT Diploma in 2011 Li commenced employment as an e-learning content developer for SeerPharma - a Quality and Compliance consultancy firm for the Life Science industries.

“I'm really enjoying it,” said Li, who is busy with his new role at SeerPharma and life with his young family, including a new baby daughter.

“I really enjoyed my two years of study at NMIT's Collingwood campus. Animation was my favourite subject … we created a web-based guide for shopping and activities in Smith Street (Collingwood) using Flash.”

Interview / Photo Opportunity

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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