Student Stories Byron Community College

Student Stories

Student Stories

Over the years we have had many students achieve certifications allowing them to progress in their chosen field.

Below are some of their stories:

Daniella Lawall – Certificate IV in Permaculture

Daniella Lawall Prior to studying at Byron College I ran a clothing shop in Coolangatta selling natural fabrics and plants. Then I started thinking about farming, inspired by a desire to work more with plants.

Following the courses I have teamed up with a friend to start a business called HOLOS which offers Regenerative Design, implementation and education services. We have rented a farm in Brunswick Heads for 4 years and are planting a food forest using syntropic farming principles. We’ll be running courses there and using it as a demonstration site. www.holosdesign.com.au.

Doing the course changed my life. My family is very happy and have learnt how to grow food. I’ve converted my garden and those of some friends into edible gardens. I’ve planted lots of food trees and vegetables, even though I’m renting. I’m happy that I can leave this for the next person who rents the house. My children get to pick their food from the garden and they love it! They are making healthy choices on their own having seen the transition in me.


David Willison – Certificate III in Individual Support

David Wilson After several different careers that created stability but little stimulation toward my desire to be of service to others I came across the Byron Community College course program. My eyes fell upon Certificate 3 in Individual Support and I walked over to the college to sign up – a week later I was sitting in the classroom.

Kellie and Bridget have been taking us through the world of creating a better life for those incapable of supporting themselves. Their extensive experience, patience and wisdom have created a strong foundation for our class to go out and ease the suffering of others.

As a result and in the midst of my studies I have gained employment supporting people with disabilities and am using learned skills in my day to day work.

Every step of the way the college staff have devoted themselves to student wellbeing and the fee free scholarship associated with this course gave me the financial freedom to focus on study.


Luise Gortz – Certificate III Individual Support (Aged Care)

Luise Gortz Having spent most of my working life as a jewellery designer I retired in 2012 and moved back to rural Mullumbimby. With spare time on my hands I started working as a volunteer in the Aged Care industry and realized that there was a great need for people like me. Staff at the Nursing Home suggested I should do a Certificate III in Aged Care so that my many hours spent at the facility would be financially remunerated and future paid employment was guaranteed.

I looked at several options offered to do such a course and the Byron Community College appealed the most to me. The setting is picturesque and the office staff at the college helped me immensely in choosing the right course. I enrolled and spent seven months with a fantastic group of mature aged students, working and studying together was uplifting and revitalizing. The teachers spent many hours teaching in a calm and captivating manner and learning was more entertainment than actual work.

Since completing this course I have been fully employed and relish my work.


Mac Maderski – Certificate III in Aged Care

Mac Maderski The course not only offers necessary skills and knowledge needed to work in the industry but also provides personal development at a socio-multicultural level. It improves our understanding of what it is to care for our elderly and people with disabilities, teaches humility, compassion and patience which also reflects on the personal, family and community well-being, it is a skill set worth learning regardless of our circumstances or background.

I have to admit that this course kind of landed in my lap without any pre-planning or previous interest in that field, but I can honestly say without a shadow of regret that I’m glad it did, if not for myself than for others, and would recommend it to anyone looking to become a carer or further improve their personal development.

The professional, flexible and friendly approach by the Byron College staff and an amazing group of students made it a pleasant and memorable experience. I never expected such a high standard of education and support from a small Community College.


Liz Winter – Certificate III in Aged Care

LIz Winter

I have always wanted to work in the health industry after briefly being involved in hospital work back in the 1980’s. I had strong doubts being in my early 50’s and out of the workforce for so long, but I decided to do an aged care course and chose the Byron Community College as my place of learning.

I had no idea this choice would transform my life in so many ways. The course was well planned and led by inspiring mentors who had a wealth of knowledge, wisdom and experience. Whenever I needed extra help or support, the college was incredibly supportive. An added bonus was the fantastic people I met.

Forward 12 months later, I have a permanent part time position at a local facility that I absolutely love and am constantly challenged by in the most positive way. I was offered the job while I was on work experience. I have a greater sense of self-esteem and a consistent income.
The whole experience has taught me we can do anything we set out minds too and that it is never too late to achieve your dreams.


Richard Fielder – Certificate III in Aged Care

Richard Fielder Coming from a self-employed career in landscape gardening/horticulture, I realised that I was running out of energy for the physical side that kind of work requires and needed a career change. I was also looking for more interaction with local community and hoping to feel more useful and gain a sense of fulfilment from work.

A friend did the Certificate III in Aged Care course with Byron College a few years ago and recommended that I give it a try, so I enrolled to prepare myself for the start a new career.

I really enjoyed the experience and enjoyed the different teaching styles, through role-play for example, where you get to experience putting yourself in other people’s shoes. I always feel uplifted after class having been with like-minded people learning new skills. I thinks this is a great course to learn acceptance of people and to be less judgmental and would highly recommend it to anyone who feels they want to reach out to others in a meaningful and fulfilling career. Sure, there will be challenges, but they help to keep you on your toes.


Phoebe-Violet – Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care

Phoebe Violet I love working with children. Not only is it a fun and energetic job, but it’s rewarding in so many ways. I love teaching children skills they will carry with them for life. Enrolling into the Child Care course was not a hard decision as I wanted to further my understanding of connecting with them so I could really offer them the best teaching.

The college is a sustainable environment with beautiful gardens and a great positive vibe, offering a relaxed learning place. The staff and tutors are all very good at the jobs they do. If you have any questions, problems or need any help or anything at all, you are more than just supported, they build a positive relationship with each student making you feel comfortable and welcomed. It’s almost like a family. They believe in you and help you to achieve everything you are capable of. I am truly grateful to the staff who not only helped me become an educator and better teacher but who also accepted me as a person and guided me along to a better future and better understanding of children- a passion of mine.


Danielle Rowland – Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care

Danielle Rowland I am a born and bred Byron Shire teenager who was eager to continue educating myself. However, I was not only reluctant to leave our beautiful environment for further education, it was financially an impossibility. Fortunately, Byron Community College provided a most rewarding option.

I have always loved children and believed they deserve nurturing to develop into all that they can be. Studying the Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care has given me the skills and knowledge to implement this belief. I feel very privileged to have shared the company of fellow friendly students and be guided by a caring, and highly educated teacher. I would fully recommend this course to everyone intending to work in child care or for anyone becoming a parent.





Sandi Vaerio – Diploma Early Childhood Education and Care

Sandi Valero I am a mother of 4 with a busy schedule . My passion is early childhood and I have always dreamt of working the the field. Just last year I studied with Byron college and completed a Cert III in Early Childhood Education and Care
.
My teacher Jud King was amazing, after not studying for over 30 years it was a big step to take but it was made easy with her guidance.

I enjoyed the course so much I decided to upgrade my skills and complete my Diploma this year. My teacher Marie was equally supportive and made the study time enjoyable and very rich.

I am moving from the Northern Rivers next year, with my diploma under my belt, a love of children and Steiner education as my underlying passion I feel equipped to pursue a career in Steiner Early childhood.

Thank you Byron College.



Ben Mallison – Certificate IV in Permaculture

Ben Mallison It’s been a long road for me in finding the right permaculture studies. I enjoyed the broad range of skill sets taught from botany to business management to community engagement. These were gaps I had in my existing skill-set as a permaculture professional. My peers were lateral thinkers and passionate.

Mark was the right tutor for me. His invaluable wisdom from his long working career, vision of where permaculture needs to go and flexibility with students circumstances meant I was able to get the most from the course despite my circumstances moving to the area last year.

The qualification gives me the first impression legitimacy with industry professionals in the design & construction industry, where there is great potential for emerging permaculture professionals to be involved in large impact projects Australia wide. Coming from the architecture industry in Sydney as a specialist consultant, I can now demonstrate the benefits and positive cultural impact of moving the ethics and principles of permaculture into the mainstream.


Terry Gray – Certificate III in Permaculture

Terry Gray I moved to the Bryon Shire about 6 years ago after falling in love with the area on surfing trips from Sydney. What started out as an interest in organic gardening led me to the college as I had discovered Permaculture and the college was offering the Cert III in Permaculture, which, through life circumstances, I was unable to complete the first time. The college gave me the opportunity to come back and give it another go.

I completed my Certificate III in Permaculture and went on to also undertake the Certificate III in Horticulture.

I have had the most incredible learning experiences here at the college. The college staff and trainers have given me all the support that I have needed and I have made some life- long friends. The buildings and the grounds are really inspiring also. One day I would love to be able to teach Permaculture and I believe the college is giving me the opportunity to reach that goal. I am excited to be doing the Certificate IV in Permaculture this year and could not recommend the Cert III in Permaculture and Cert III in Horticulture highly enough.


Mario Plaatsman – Certificate III in Permaculture

Mario Plaatsman "Ralph' as he is known to his classmates is a mature age student who undertook the Certificate II in Permaculture in 2017. Living on acreage out near Nimbin, Ralph came to the course looking for practical experience to help him manage the land and perhaps derive a livelihood from home. After seeing an ad in the Echo and finding out the fees were heavily subsided under Smart & Skilled, he decided to enrol.

Ralph is coming to realise that the stand out skill gained from the course is more in lateral thinking than the practicalities of permaculture. In terms of the landscape, Ralph see Permaculture as learning the ‘Art of Farming’ and seeing the ‘land as your canvas’. He has begun getting involved in some of his local communities projects and is proving to be a mature and grounding force for the whole class. Ralph appreciates the flexible and accommodating elements of the learning, especially the additional support he has received with IT and using the computers.



Susanne Sweeney – Certificate III in Visual Arts

Susanne Sweeney Coming from more of an academic background, she was drawn to the course as a way of developing her creative side and wanted to see where the journey would take her.
With the opportunity to work across a wide array of mediums and be guided by a wonderful group of highly talented and supportive tutors such as Virginia Reid, Suvira McDonald and Dale Rhodes, the low levels of confidence that her and her fellow students initially felt, soon gave way to a freedom to connect with their passions. Whilst the course does give invaluable techniques which can be explored in depth, Susanne found that there was no pressure from the tutors to stick to a structured process and often students guided the learning process with ideas that they wanted to explore.

The course gave Susanne and her classmates the opportunity to connect, both to themselves and with each other through their work. The art journaling proved an invaluable tool through which Susanne continues to workshop her ideas, thoughts and day to day life challenges, and she intends on continuing this process beyond the completion of her studies.


Daniel Hend – Certificate III in Visual Arts & Certificate IV in Small Business Management

Daniel Hend
The son of a local artist, Daniel developed his creative talents through his studies and has created a range of screen printed clothing plus multiple artworks over the past few years. These were recently displayed in his exhibition in Mullumbimby. Half the money raised for the exhibition has been donated to Education Care Projects in Kenya, displaying a philanthropic side rarely found in most 19 year olds.

Whilst studying the Small Business Management Certificate, Daniel was introduced through the College to Peter Spill, who became his mentor throughout the course. From relatively shaky foundations between the two, Peter and Daniel developed a mutually respectful relationship. Peter watched as Daniel unfolded from a protective, guarded place to become a young man who was motivated to take his life in positive and creative directions. He remarked on seeing Daniel at his exhibition that he ‘was a changed man – barely recognisable from the person he had met’. Daniel’s story shows how education and the role of a mentor can really help to change people’s lives.


Felix Abercrombie Wood – Certificate IV in Visual Arts

Felix Abercrombie
After finishing year 12 at Byron Steiner School last year, Felix decided to stay in Mullumbimby and undertake the Certificate IV in Visual Arts rather than move to Melbourne or take a gap year. He felt that an interstate move and University study was a massive commitment at the time, although this remains an option down the track.

“The vibe at the college is really nice” says Felix. “I like that I can come to class and concentrate on my work with the tutors always there to help and learn from”.

Felix hopes to use his developed artistic talents to produce and sell art. He’s also planning to take time to travel once the course finishes at the end of the year.





Therese Clark – Mosaic for beginners

Therese Clark Mosaic! Mosaic! Piece by piece I created my beautiful wavy Tree. I was new to town when I did this course and it was very lovely having an outlet to express myself every week. Since completing my mosaic course, I have gone on a very inspired journey in creativity and have finally pin-pointed a passion of mine. I enrolled in the Sewing course at the end of last year with the Byron Community College and plan to continue my studies by doing a Certificate 3 in Fashion Design at Wollongbar TAFE. These courses sparked something deep inside of me, almost like they knocked on that door of creativity within!

I’m excited about further study and the journey of opening up to my hidden talents. Adult learning is special and encouraging for us to believe in the power of everything is possible.

Thank you.




Claudia Schick – Bellydancing

Claudia Schick

Here I find myself, once again, in an enlightening course with the Byron Community College ….and the classes are magnificent- as always!!

The belly dance class with Tatiana was an awesome experience – she is a very experienced and super enthusiastic teacher. The dancing reconnected me with my femininity side of life and with nature and earth itself. The combination of warm up and cool down phases with yoga and stretching made you walk away after each class relaxed and revived. Plus you discovered plenty of new muscles you haven’t used before :-) Well, there is always something new to learn. All of us in the class had lots of smiles on our faces and plenty of laughs while dancing back into our bodies.

Keep up the good work at the college and I will definitely see you soon again for more. From an ever happy student.



Kylie Mowbray-Allen – Certificate IV in Small Business Management

Kylie Mowbray-Allen
I’ve had my business for 6 years now, and outsourced where my own knowledge-base was lacking; however I was frustrated when problems arose and I didn’t have full understanding. So, this year I completed the Cert IV in Small Business with Byron Community College which was a juggle struggle at times but I’m so happy I completed it!

I’ve gained so much in-depth knowledge of the workings of my business, processes, improvements needing to be made and identifying areas for growth. The class workshopped each other’s business issues in various areas throughout the course which was incredibly helpful. The course culminated with each of us writing a comprehensive business and financial plan which was an incredible learning process.

I took away so much from this course, and my office vision board now reminds me of this every day; “Constantly think and reflect on your business. Take time each week to think. How can you improve, what can you do?”


Julia Chant – Certificate IV in New Small Business

Julia Chant
Participating in study at the Byron Community College has allowed me to rebuild my self-confidence personally and professionally in a supportive environment, while also encouraging me to develop new skills and to stretch beyond my comfort zone and self imposed barriers. At the beginning of the course, I almost dropped out as I felt I wouldn’t be able to complete the Business Plan. However, I pushed my own boundaries and developed a full Business Plan.

The value of learning has been a way to empower myself. Previously, I held the belief that I had to work for someone else but through the course I learned that I could create and run my own successful business. At times I found myself feeling overwhelmed, but the support and accessibility of the College tutors and staff made for beneficial and effective learning and I was able to work through the tasks. I can see that through education and hard work, I have developed the skills and tools to be able to set new goals, overcome any obstacles and achieve successful outcomes. I believe that this process underpins small business entrepreneurship.


Leah Wright – Certificate IV in Small Business Management

Leah Wright I completed the Certificate IV in Small Business Management with Byron Community College in 2013 to give my Byron Rashie business some traction. I’ve been involved in several start-up businesses over the past 15 years, so loads of ideas, but realised my weakness lay in running the business – which is crucial. I’d reach a point with an idea i.e. concept through to implementation or production, but the next step was always a stumbling block as I didn’t have a point of reference or anyone to guide me. I kept thinking “I really need a business plan”, so decided to do something about it. Now, I constantly refer back to my business plan, particularly for financial updates and keeping online marketing strategies on track.

Our tutors were inspirational and made going to class exciting – I wasn’t expecting to have so much fun! The other surprise was the students. We became a tight knit group – due to some rigorous debates and brainstorming sessions. There was loads of support and it often felt like each business idea had a whole team behind it.

If you are considering enrolling in the Small Business qualification, Just do it.


Merryn Boller – Certificate IV in Small Business Management

Merryn Boller Merryn Boller is a local musician who, along with three other members makes up the pop folk band Potato Potato. They have performed at some of the Shire’s best known festivals such as Splendour in the Grass, The Blues Festival, Mullum Music Festivel and further afield at Woodford. Merryn recognised the need for some clear direction, to ensure that The Taters continue to establish themselves as a successful music business.

Though only completing her HSC last year, Merryn took on the challenge of enrolling in the Certificate IV in Small Business Management. Despite the shock of being back in the swing of regular assignments, Merryn had the support of the Small Business tutors, a tight knit group of students and the College to help her complete it successfully. She found the learning environment to be loving and free from judgement.

As a result of completing her Small Business qualification, her managerial skills have been honed, and she has discovered the inner workings of what is involved in presenting a more professional image for her and her bandmates.


Mango Davis – Certificate IV in Small Business Management

Mango Davis I first started to study with Byron Community College in 1995 when it was ACE, I completed 3 massage workshops and a certificate IV in Remedial Massage, qualifications I have used over the last 8 years working as a remedial and deep tissue therapist.

I have also been building my business ‘Sticky Art’ making high quality art stickers. Looking to expand the business I recently completed a Certificate IV in Small Business Management with the College which has given me the extra confidence to grow a successful business. I’m about to start an adobe illustrator course to learn more skills to apply in my business.

All up I’ve attended at least 10 courses and workshops with BCC including photography, screen print, dream and psychic development workshops. I highly recommend the College for interesting, unique and enjoyable courses and I look forward to continuing to study with the College in the future.




Peter O’Connor – Various Courses

Peter O'Connor The 2 courses I chose both required movement, concentration and social interaction. All good elements to integrate into many learning experiences. The first was Argentinian Tango with Esther who was a very communicative and experienced teacher. While I could dance the traditional ballroom steps and rock and roll, learning the tango was a totally new, different dance with plenty of challenges.

The second was Golf at Ocean Shores with Chris. He is a patient and encouraging teacher with many useful techniques to master this challenging game.

Thanks to the College I am now continuing with both activities and enjoying them very much.







Nathaniel Caldwell – Various Courses

Nathaniel Caldwell I started Caroline Fischer’s photography workshops on the weekends when I was in year 10 at high school. This enabled me to develop skills and build a portfolio. I gained volunteer work as a photographer in workshops and at the Byron Bay Writer’s Festival and increased my portfolio. This gained me work experience at Animal Logic, Playstation Mag, ABC 3, Good Game and ABC.

In 2013 I began assisting Caroline Fischer in her workshops and furthered my extra curriculum study with Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign. The skills gained from these courses allowed me to gain underage entry straight from year eleven into a Diploma of Screen and Media at SAE. I went on to complete my Bachelor Degree in 3D Animation. I graduated uni at twenty and was head hunted straight by Binyan Studios where I am doing what I love.

Byron Community College allowed me to tailor my path and focus on the skills I wanted to develop. The college always treated me with respect and as an equal and it allowed my creativity to flow. I still use my skills from Caroline and the design courses and am starting my own design and production company Phoenix Cre8ions.


Alexander Booth – Mandy Nolan’s Comedy Course.

Alex Boothy I love Byron Community College because it encourages us all to challenge our boundaries and be impassioned by the process of learning. I attended Mandy’s Comedy Course and have never looked back. The journey was incredible, by the end everyone had developed their own style and outlook on comedy and life, bringing a light and fun perspective to the everyday.

Life has definitely been changed for the better; as a training doctor I find myself better able to interact and connect with my patients through the funny experiences common to us all, and I can safely say that my ‘dad jokes’ are now second to none. I still continue to experiment with new material and try it out at open mic nights in the area. I love learning from the courage and wit displayed by all the other participants who get up on stage and turn the ordinary into amazing.





Petra Stark – Various Photography Courses

Petra Stark As an older person, I can’t stress enough how important it is to constantly train, retrain and improve your skills.

To take part in photographic workshops is a chance to do just that. I have taken part in a few now and enjoyed every one.
You interact with other photographers, exchange knowledge and get inspired with new ideas.

The Tutors are well known professional photographers with excellent tutorial skills, they inspirie and teaching at the same time.
Something, you can’t take for granted. You are learning in an friendly, relaxed atmosphere and in well equipped modern rooms. There are no more then 10 participants in each workshop, so working around each other is a breeze.

We have very creative communities and can inspire and learn from each other when coming together in a college environment. A win, win situation.