Graduate commercial cookery student claims prestigious TAFE award | Photos

Orange students have excelled at the TAFE NSW Western annual Outstanding Graduating Student Awards for 2016.

Five students were recognised at a special ceremony at Highland Heritage Estate on Wednesday with Orange Certificate III Commercial Cookery student Donna Fitzgerald being awarded the outstanding graduating student of the year for 2016.

Ms Fitzgerald picked up two awards, outstanding graduating student of the year and vocational student of the year.

There were five students who studied at the Orange campus and were successful at the awards.

Tess Bishenden won trainee of the year.

Kathleen Hevesi also won one of the two vocational student of the year awards.

Ben Field won apprentice of the year.

Jonathan Emeny won an encouragement award.

TAFE NSW regional general manager Kate Baxter said the graduates are nominated by their teachers who recognise them as the most passionate, dedicated, industrious and skilful students.

“[Ms Fitzgerald] excelled in and out of the classroom during her time studying in Orange and working as an apprentice at Tonic Restaurant in Millthorpe,” Mrs Baxter said.

“She is well respected by her peers, is an exceptionally talented student and chef and a very deserving winner of our most prestigious award.”

Ms Fitzgerald was nominated for the award by TAFE NSW Orange Tourism and Hospitality teacher John Olewicz, who was delighted she took home the top award as well as winning the vocational student of the year award.

“[Ms Fitzgerald] has undertaken Commercial Cookery at TAFE following a successful career in law and during her studies at TAFE she was a very positive and influential member of her class,” Mr Olewicz said.

“[She] is an excellent example of a mature-aged person with a previous and successful career following her passion and dreams in a totally new direction.”

Mr Olewicz said she completed her work to the highest quality, her techniques and knowledge were exemplary, she understood the importance of training, and did everything she could to maximise her skills and knowledge.

She was credited with being a positive and influential member in her classes, was respected by other students and staff, and her talents were matched by her tenacity and burning desire to succeed.