An international award winner, a champion competitor, a mentor and an industry leader – all by the age of 21. The future is certainly looking bright for TAFE Illawarra’s Student of the Year, Mikayla Brightling.
The talented baking graduate has not only received the highest accolade at TAFE Illawarra’s prestigious Annual Awards, she was named Apprentice of the Year, the Culinary and Services Skills Student Award winner and the first-ever TAFE NSW Morgan Clementson Prize for Bakery.
Mikayla says she is shocked to receive the swag of awards – one of which includes an internship with global baking company Puratos in Belgium under the guidance of TAFE Illawarra graduate Morgan Clementson herself.
“I can’t believe it, I’m still processing it all.
“It’s through the support of my teachers and mentors that I’ve been able to build the confidence to succeed in what I do,” she says.
“TAFE Illawarra has also given me so many opportunities to develop myself professionally and personally.
"I'm also so grateful for my employers, Delaney’s Cakes in Wollongong, who have always supported me."
"I've loved baking since I was little girl. I spent so much time in the kitchen with my grandmother, who was a pastry chef in Greece, so it’s in my blood. Although I never thought it would take me to where I am today.”
TAFE Illawarra’s Institute Director, Dianne Murray, says: “Mikayla is a powerful example of what can be accomplished by a young, passionate person in their chosen industry.
“Thanks to her drive, skill and the excellent training from our expert teachers, Mikayla has received countless awards, secured scholarships and won competitions.”
Of Mikayla’s many successes, highlights include winning the National Australian BakeSkills Championship title, being named the 2014 National Apprentice Pastry Chef, receiving the Bronze Medal at the 2014 Australian WorldSkills Competition and receiving the Certificate of Excellence in the 2015 World Asia Pacific Pastry Cup.
Mikayla’s commitment to her industry and community is also remarkable. She regularly volunteers her time to raise funds for the Homeless Hub and has been selected as an apprentice mentor for the Australian Baking Association.
Her advice to others thinking about studying at TAFE?
“Be open. Be flexible to whatever opportunities come your way,” she says.
“I didn’t walk into the classroom thinking I would win these awards and be where I am now.
I took every opportunity that came my way and gave it my all.”
With dreams of one day running her own business, Mikayla is now continuing her studies with a Certificate IV in Small Business. She is also taking part in weekly innovation and leadership with TAFE Illawarra.