Picture: Debbie Boyd from HVTC presenting the Agribusiness and Environment Award to Marie O'Shea.
64-year-old Marie O’Shea is proof there’s no age limit for learning. After spending most of her life working in the public service, the Yass local decided to pursue her true passion for horticulture.
“Retiring from 34 years working in the public service sector, I thought – now is the time to pursue something I’m passionate about. It’s time to reward myself.
“I retired on a Thursday, walked into TAFE Illawarra Yass on the Friday to see what I could do in the field of horticulture, and was in class starting my course by the Monday.
“It’s given me a new lease on life,” says Marie.
Marie’s thirst for learning led her straight to the top of her studies. She was recently named the Agribusiness and Environment Student of the Year at TAFE Illawarra’s prestigious Annual Awards – where she was also invited to deliver the Student Vote of Thanks to more than 230 guests.
Her inspiring speech touched on her life journey, moving from Papua New Guinea to Australia at the age of 12 to pursue an education.
“I won a scholarship when I was 12 to complete my secondary education in NSW.
“My father always impressed upon me the importance of education. This has stayed with me all through my life.
"I now appreciate first-hand the pivotal role Vocational Education and Training plays in the development of students’ futures.”
Marie says her teachers and campus support staff play a major part of this role.
“I would like to thank our teachers for their dedication and willingness to assist us in achieving our dreams. Thank you for the interest shown in us as people.
“I know a big part of my success in horticulture is because of the enthusiasm of my local teachers.”
Marie is now planning to continue her studies with the Diploma of Horticulture. She’s also recently been offered employment at a local garden centre, is working for the local LandCare organisation and volunteers at Bowning Public School where she runs classes in growing vegetables.
Her advice to others?
“It’s never too late to chase your dreams.”
Want to change your life too?
Enrolments for Semester 2, 2016 at TAFE Illawarra are now open. Explore courses on offer with our Course Search or call 1300 766 123 to enrol today.