GOTAFE graduates ready for new challenges

By Madeleine Caccianiga

More than 100 graduates were empowered by renowned musician Ella Hooper and keynote speaker Paul de Gelder during celebrations on Monday night.

The event recognised Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE students’ completion of 2018 studies in areas including business, information technology, art and design, community services and health.

GOTAFE chief executive officer Travis Heeney said having inspirational speakers really impacted on the students and guests having a fun night.

‘‘Paul’s story is about sharing some of the challenges that he has needed to overcome in life and that story of inspiration has really resonated with the graduates, and Ella is a local identity which adds to the fun focus of the night,’’ Mr Heeney said.

Lead singer of Killing Heidi, Hooper said as 2019 was shaping up to be a busy year for her, she would always have time for the country towns.

‘‘I definitely feel a strong connection to this region and also GOTAFE in particular. I really do recognise it as a great opportunity for country people to stay in the country yet absolutely grow their opportunities and have the best opportunities without making that mass exodus to the city,’’ she said.

Hooper said there was nothing stopping country students from reaching their dreams.

‘‘People always want to make it a big deal about coming from a small country town and then having such success, but I like to take the angle of ‘well, why not?’,’’ she said.

Mr de Gelder talked about his career in the navy and how he survived a shark attack in Sydney Harbour.

He said his story was about making the most out of life experiences.

‘‘We all need a little bit of a reminder sometimes. We all know that we are far more capable than we give ourselves credit for but we forget,’’ he said.

‘‘We forget there is a bigger world, a bigger cause, a bigger person in our heart and soul. There is a big amazing world out there, full of potential and possibility.’’

Mr de Gelder now travels the world as a passionate environmentalist, adventurer and motivational speaker.