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Scholarship winner turns hardship into helping hand

A South Metropolitan TAFE student has won an acclaimed scholarship awarded to those who dedicate themselves to helping others.

Raquel Henderson, of Halls Head, was the recipient of the City of Mandurah’s annual Nikki Wise Scholarship, which provides a local resident with $2000 to further their studies in community services.

The Mandurah mother of two is completing a Diploma of Community Services at SM TAFE’s Mandurah campus, having recently completed the certificate IV qualification.

Ms Henderson had held many jobs throughout her working life, in sales, hospitality, construction and administration, but it was her own life experiences — and an eye for a bargain — that prompted her to pursue what has become her passion.

“When the State Government announced its Lower fees, local skills initiative, I was looking for new opportunities and began to explore study options,” Ms Henderson said.

“I’d experienced loss, witnessed in those close to me the perils of addiction and substance abuse, and saw first-hand the impact of troubled family lives.

“I turned my own life around and decided I wanted a career in which I could share the lessons I’d learnt on this journey and help others in the community.”

Having completed a work placement with Anglicare as part of her studies, Ms Henderson is now undertaking a work placement with the City of Mandurah.

The scholarship honours the legacy of Nikki Wise, who was devoted to helping those in need and died in 2016. In 2012, Nikki founded the ‘Reach Out Drop In Centre’, a food service for homeless people in Mandurah’s city centre.

By 2014, the food service was providing more than 200 meals per week. Nikki’s dedication to assisting the homeless also extended to the planning of many fundraising events to support the service and increase awareness of homelessness in Mandurah.

The Diploma of Community Services leads to a range of career paths, including the potential to become a team leader as a program coordinator, early intervention worker, or case manager.

Working in Community Services is diverse and includes identifying the support needed and assisting to resolve personal issues by assigning resources that meet clients' needs. 

Applications to study Community Services at SM TAFE are open for semester 1, 2022.