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High school student nursing big ambitions recognised

Stella Cox named VET in Schools Student of the Year for Southern and South Western Sydney.

A high school student poses for a photo holding her award with a nurse educator.
SydneyConnect Image: Stella Cox named VET in Schools Student of the Year

High school student Stella Cox has always wanted to be a nurse.

"Sometimes you have that one nurse [in hospital] who's amazing and they make you feel really happy and relieved. That's why I want to go into nursing, I want to be that kind of nurse."

And, she's on the way to realising her ambition, having been named the Vocational, Education and Training (VET) in Schools Student of the Year for Southern and South Western Sydney.

Stella, 17, is completing a Certificate III in Health Services Assistance as part of her Higher School Certificate, at Sydney Local Health District's Centre for Education and Workforce Development (CEWD).

During the two-year course, Year 11 and 12 students learn basic nursing skills and receive on-the-job training during two clinical placements.

Stella undertook her placements at Concord Hospital where her highlight was interacting with patients.

"You're sitting there with someone who's in hospital and you're laughing with them. Little things like that aren't necessarily medical care, but it's still patient care because you're making them smile," she said.

Stella's also been caring for her mother who has a rare neurological disease called transverse myelitis - inflammation of the spinal cord.

"She was in hospital for a year and she came home an incomplete quadriplegic and uses a power wheelchair, so I've been looking after her my whole life."

Stella will be following a family tradition if she progresses with a career in healthcare.

"My mum was a midwife before she got sick and my grandma was also a registered nurse, so I'm third generation if I go into it."

CEWD Nurse Educator Fiona Oulis said it was very rewarding to see Stella's hard work recognised.

"She is a very mature student. She's taken to nursing like a duck to water. It's lovely to see that passion in people wanting to give back to the community."

CEWD's Director, Lesley Innes also said Stella was deserving of the accolade.

"The VET In Schools program aims to foster the sort of dedication and compassion Stella has shown so it's great that she's been chosen for this honour."

Stella will compete for the state-wide VET in Schools Student of the Year title later in the year.