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Top award goes to Collie student

Her passion for learning and working with people with disability is a driving force for Dannii MacIntyre of Collie.

Dannii, who studied for the disability stream of the Certificate III in Individual Support at the South Regional TAFE Collie campus last year, was recently named Overall South Regional TAFE Student of the Year for 2020.

She is well known in the Collie community, where she volunteers for St John Ambulance, coaches children’s hockey and teaches dancing.

That’s when Dannii isn’t working as a primary school education assistant, with people with disability at a local organisation, or studying for her Certificate IV in Education Support, which she enrolled in this year.

Dannii’s interest in making a difference to the lives of people with disability was sparked when she worked on summer camps in the US.

“I worked there with people with special needs for three months in 2017 and 2018 and for 10 days in 2019,” Dannii said.

“It was an incredible experience.”

Back in Australia, she continued her work with people with disability, which she still does, and enrolled in the Individual Support course last year.

Having considered taking that course at the bigger South Regional TAFE campus in Bunbury, Dannii heard that the lecturer at the campus in her home town of Collie was very well regarded.

“Everyone spoke highly of [lecturer] Lee Westwood,” Dannii said.

And Dannii said they were right.

“She was absolutely amazing, she made the class interesting – everything she taught was relatable and intriguing,” she said.

“Even during Covid when we worked online, she was always there and responded quickly.”

Lee said Dannii’s work at an international level supporting young adults with a diverse range of disabilities formulated a passion for working with people with special needs.

“Dannii has produced work that is well prepared, professionally presented, and at a high academic level,” Lee’s nomination read.

“She provided strong informed feedback in workshops and has provided peer support for other students.

“Dannii has great compassion and empathy and I believe she will be a valuable asset in the community services sector.”

Winning the award for South West Student of the Year was a surprise for Dannii, who had to find out what it meant.

“I was quite chuffed!” she said.

Following an interview, she was bowled over to hear she had won the overall award, for which she was judged against Students of the Year from all campuses – and ultimately more than 10,000 students at the college last year.

Dannii now plans to take further qualifications to enhance her skills to support children with disability, as well as expanding her knowledge to other fields, such as mental health.

“There’s always a lot to learn, and I’m constantly learning,” she said.