Kellie Heywood had always had a passion for the written word, with English her best subject during her secondary school years.
But after completing Year 12, Kellie, 34, of Bellfield, opted for a secure, traditional, albeit conservative career as an optometrist, enrolling for a Bachelor of Science (Optometry) degree at Melbourne University. At that time, writing did not appear as a way of making a liveable income.
Ten years later, she decided to revisit her love of writing, and enrolled for two units in the Diploma of Professional Writing & Editing at Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE (NMIT).
While she had tinkered with fictional, literary efforts over the years at home after work, she became frustrated that her endeavours were not as good as she wanted. But her studies in writing and editing were part-time only; designed for Kellie to acquire some professional skills in crafting words in a more structured environment without any consideration of a new career.
Now, Kellie has just been awarded NMIT 2007 Outstanding Student of the Year after three years study and completing her Diploma last year. She also won the award for 2007 Outstanding Student of the Year in the Faculty of Further Education, receiving $1,000 for each award.
'When I started my study units, it was more for personal development than a planned career change, and to win the awards was 'a very nice surprise and I'm very excited,' Kellie said.
'For me, it's a vindication of my decision to return to study and retrain in a totally different field.'
Kellie studied the Diploma two years part-time, and enjoyed it so much and did so well, she jettisoned her career as an optometrist and enrolled full-time in 2006.
'I'm really thrilled with the awards and to win an Institute-wide award is very gratifying. When you make the decision to return to study with all the financial adjustments and the time and work you put in, to win awards for your work is a fantastic thing.'
She added it was also 'wonderful reassurance that you're good at what you want to do.'
Kellie now works as an online editor for a website Fitness2Live based in Richmond, that was established by three exercise physiologists and offers health and fitness regimes for people looking to improve and/or change their lifestyle.
She is also still involved at NMIT, assisting in the editing of a project for NMIT's publishing arm, Flat Chat Press.
'Certainly, my new career is a shift from optometry, and I've got to the place where I want to be and probably always wanted to be,' Kellie said.
'My interest in writing was something that never quite went away during my career as an optometrist and when I went back to study, the more I did of writing and editing, the more interested I became.'
Kellie said her new career as an editor combined her science background in health with her penchant for writing and editing.
'As an optometrist, I was communicating particular health messages and that's what I'm doing now in a different context.
'Health communication is increasingly becoming such an important issue, particularly with the problems that obesity, diabetes and people's inactive lifestyles are posing. My studies at NMIT have opened up a whole new range of career opportunities where I can combine both passions for health science and English.
'Winning the awards is just such a leap from where I was; I didn't realise where I was heading when I first enrolled at NMIT and now it's quite a surprise to find where I'm at.'
Interview / Photo Opportunity
Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener, on (03) 92691579, 0413 483 182 or firstname.lastname@example.org
NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) - Situated on seven campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne's north, 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.
Interview / Photo Opportunity
Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener.