19-year-old Luke Nolan of Dolphin Point, is leading the way for Indigenous students, after receiving the coveted TAFE NSW Illawarra Student of the Year award at the Annual Student Awards this week.
The TAFE NSW graduate has big dreams to one day own a restaurant and employ apprentices so he can offer others the same opportunities he has been given.
Luke was also awarded the TAFE NSW Illawarra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year and the Culinary Skills and Hospitality Student award, after studying Certificate III in Commercial Cookery at TAFE NSW Nowra.
Now working at The Heritage Bakery in Milton, Luke is ecstatic with his awards and is well on the way to achieving his foodie dreams.
“It makes me feel so happy to get these awards. It’s showing me that I made the right career choice,” says Luke.
“When I arrived at TAFE on my first day, I saw steam coming out of pots and people moving around the kitchen. I was thrown into this new environment and met different people but I felt so comfortable.
“I’ve learned heaps from TAFE. I barely knew how to use a knife in the beginning,” he says.
A love of local, sustainable products, Luke has strong associations with his cultural heritage. Luke’s passion to infuse his culinary ‘paddock to plate’ initiatives and incorporate the use of bush tucker foods, will define him as a leader in the hospitality industry and his community.
With a thirst to consistently gain new skills in the workplace, Luke is loving the bakery component of his job role.
“I remember at TAFE I used to watch the bakers in the kitchen. I now find that even in the workplace, the more I’m learning, the more motivated I am to become a top chef one day.”
Ian Faust, Commercial Cookery teacher recalls Luke’s dedication to his study.
“Luke was always extremely studious and dedicated, he tried super hard in everything he did,” says Mr Faust.
“His confidence was quite low when Luke first came to us. It was great to see the transformation he made into a very competent, confident chef in the kitchen.”
Luke is an inspiring young ambassador, setting a positive example in healthy food choices and encouraging his peers to feel pride in their unique food culture.
Recognising his life goals at such an early stage of his career has given Luke a great appreciation for how much can be achieved through learning.
If you, like Luke want to be whatever you want to be, visit a TAFE NSW location during Open Week 19-24 June or contact our Customer Service Centre staff for more information on 131 601.