Celebrating students’ achievements

June 23, 2024 BY

Nursing graduate Taylah Firmer.

THREE Bendigo TAFE graduates have been recognised as part of the 2024 Victorian Young Achiever Awards.

Nursing graduate Taylah Firmer, training and assessment, leadership and management, and human resources graduate Desirae Kilduff, and pathology collection graduate Shee Lay Bell Po were named finalists in the inspirational TAFE student category.

The three Bendigo students were among five finalists. Top spot went to Rebecca Hope, a young advocate for disability inclusion in workplaces.

A Noongar woman, Ms Kilduff graduated from Bendigo TAFE’s Certificate IV in Training and Assessment earlier this year, adding to her dual diploma in Leadership Management and Human Resources achieved in previous years.

She is now using her skills to contribute to First Nations people’s employment and leadership.

“My training and assessment qualification was tough but I am so pleased to have completed the course,” she said.

“The course has improved my confidence and has opened doors for me in my career.”

Ms Kilduff – who was also a finalist for the Yarn Strong Sista Indigenous Achievement Award – is now working on a Masters of Indigenous Business Leadership.

Meanwhile, Ms Po went from living in a refugee camp to landing her dream job in pathology after completing the Certificate III in Pathology Collection at Bendigo TAFE.

Moving to Australia at the age of 11, she learnt English while making the transition from secondary school to vocational training.

In the running: Shee Lay Bell Po and Desirae Kilduff with Bendigo TAFE executives and educators at the awards. Photos: SUPPLIED


“I feel very pleased and honoured for everyone who supported me and believed in me,” she said.

Also named as Bendigo TAFE’s Inspirational Student of the Year in 2023, Ms Po said she hoped to inspire other young people to follow their dreams and believe in themselves.

“Anything you put your mind to can become a reality and anything is possible,” she said.

Currently an endorsed enrolled nurse at Echuca Regional Health, Ms Firmer pursued the Diploma of Nursing while supporting her younger sibling as a full-time guardian.

“It’s definitely an honour,” she said. “I am standing alongside some amazing and inspiring young people who are very deserving of winning.”

Shee Lay Bell Po is now a pathologist, having been a refugee as a child.


Ms Firmer was also named Bendigo TAFE’s 2023 Student of the Year. She is now pursuing her Bachelor of Nursing degree at university.

“I truly believe that if I didn’t gain my Diploma of Nursing at TAFE, I wouldn’t be in a position to say I’m halfway through the Bachelor of Nursing,” she said.

Bendigo TAFE chief executive Sally Curtain said the institution was “incredibly proud” of the three finalists.

“Their unwavering determination to overcome challenges and achieve educational and professional success is truly inspiring,” she said.

More than 40 young achievers were celebrated in individual and group categories at the awards, which were announced last week.