In its third year, the TAFE SA Honour Awards program is a prestigious celebration of our outstanding alumni across career levels and industries.
From the space sector to the arts, community advocacy to horticulture, artisan cheesemaking to building and construction, our talented finalists are making a significant difference to local, national, and international communities. Congratulations!
Finalists working in and contributing to future-focused, emerging and growing industries, including but not limited to apprenticeships and trades, manufacturing, the space industry, digital infrastructure, renewable energy, VFX, VR, and AR, defence industry, agribusiness, high-tech, business services, health and medical industries, hospitality, wine, tourism and creative industries.
Martin Mostert (he/him) is a technology-passionate stargazing TAFE SA graduate who studied a Diploma in Engineering (2015) and an Associate Degree in Electronics Engineering (2016). After deploying Airborne LiDAR systems globally as Field Support Engineer with Fugro Australia, Martin aimed for a new challenge. Early 2022, he joined Neumann Space as Spacecraft Systems Test Engineer. He took ownership of the testing facility, developed and executed test campaigns leading to the first Australian-made electric propulsion system successfully launched to Space in June 2023. Martin now looks forward to delivering production units to overseas customers and to contributing to the Australian Space Industry.
Jesikah Logan (she/her) completed the Certificate III in Pathology Collection at the Gillies Plains TAFE SA campus in 2018. She is now a Clinical Research Manager and Senior Clinical Trials Coordinator at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, working on many projects including the National Clinical Trials Governance Framework, Phase I-III trials such as the ground-breaking CAR-T cell studies in glioblastoma, colorectal cancers, genomic studies in rare cancers and immunotherapy for various tumour groups. She is passionate about contributing to our scientific understanding of cancer treatments, as well as positive outcomes for cancer patients and their communities.
Stefan Koliopoulos (he/him) is the dedicated and proud owner of Artisan Joinery, a thriving architectural cabinet-making business. With a keen eye for detail and excellent craftsmanship, he has become a prominent industry leader. Collaborating with some of the state’s leading and award-winning builders, Stefan and his team continue to deliver exceptional joinery, despite post-covid challenges. Their expert joinery has garnered acclaim, winning the prestigious 2022 HIA Cabinet Maker of the Year award and the 2022 New Kitchen over $85,000 award, firmly establishing Stefan’s reputation as a leader in the field. Beyond business success, Stefan is committed to nurturing the next generation of artisans, offering guidance and mentorship to ensure the artistry and skills of the craft endure and flourish.
Orlando Gazzola (he/him) is a CNC programmer and CAD engineer at Kennewell CNC Machining, Murray Bridge. As part of his role, Orlando produces precision parts, solves complex machining problems, and trains other employees. After hours, he helps run the family dairy farm at Jervois, where he milks cows and operates heavy farm equipment. The farm background provided Orlando with a strong work ethic and motivation to achieve his goals. He is highly valued by his employer, who describes Orlando as a “role model for our current and future apprentices.”
Finalists working within arts and cultural industries, advancing cultural exchange, facilitating artistic dialogue, and contributing to a dynamic and robust creative sector.
David Turley (he/him) is an international producer, songwriter, artist manager, mentor and artist. With over 25 years of experience working in the music industry, David has had recording and publishing contracts in multiple countries including the UK, Germany and Australia. He is currently signed with Kobalt publishing for his producing and song-writing work. In 2019 David returned to his hometown of Adelaide where he continues to work with international artists and local artists at his studio in Willunga. He has also worked on number of projects with local organisations inc. Northern Sound System, Carclew, Music Development Office, APRA, Music SA & Base10.
Emmaline Zanelli (she/her) is a lens-based artist, using video, photography and performance to create works that find humour and meaning in the everyday through absurdity and surrealism. Emmaline completed a Bachelor of Visual Art at the Adelaide College of the Arts in Tardanya/Adelaide in 2015, and a Master of Arts - Photography at Photography Studies College in Naarm/Melbourne in 2021. Her work has been exhibited in galleries nationally including Stills Gallery (NSW), Perth Institute of Contemporary Art (WA), The Centre for Contemporary Photography (VIC), and the Art Gallery of South Australia. Her work has been published in the British Journal of Photography and Suddeustche Zeitung magazine, and screened at Arles Photography Festival in France.
Star Sandford (she/her) is a 30-year-old Ngarrindjeri woman living and working on Kaurna Land. Star is currently Channel 44's production coordinator – Channel 44 is a community broadcast station based in Collinswood. Star loves her work within Channel 44 and works closely with interns and volunteers of the workplace, and she has collaborated on numerous projects and events in the Adelaide community and beyond. Star is taking big strides with her career and developing her skills to become a producer within the creative industries, and with just two-year's experience in the screen industry, she has accomplished some notable achievements, including recently working on feature film, The New Boy (2023).
Christopher Prendergast (he/him) pursued his passions that have led him to perform combined roles for the Arts and Events industry. His work takes him around Australia and internationally; and he has performed in leadership and technical roles in diverse events, including as the Electric Fields Front-of-house sound and tour manager, in the Melbourne, Sydney, and Canberra Symphony Orchestras, at Splendour in the Grass, at Illuminate 2023, and many others. Christopher is proud to operate in an industry that positively impacts local and remote communities by helping facilitate platforms to individuals (or groups) to become magnified and amplified.
Finalists who are living or working within regional South Australia and making a positive impact on their local community. Finalists must demonstrate a strong work ethic, drive, and creative thinking.
After 20 years in Corporate Finance and Investment Banking, Kym Masters (he/him) changed direction and, pursuing a passion for artisan cheese, founded the internationally awarded Section28 Artisan Cheeses together with his wife. Under his leadership, the Adelaide Hills based business has achieved national and international recognition for its alpine-style cheeses and has established a national leadership position in production of raw milk cheeses. Kym’s time in finance included stints with BankSA, Adelaide Bank and the Macquarie Group. He was also Chief Investment Officer of Adelaide Managed Funds and the Head of Economic Development at the Adelaide City Council.
Simon Schuh (he/him) is a Mechanical Project Coordinator for Liberty GFG Steel Whyalla as well as the Unit Manager of the Whyalla State Emergency Service. He has 15 years of experience in Emergency response, and is an accredited Archery Coach and competitor. His journey at TAFE SA began as an Apprentice Fitter and Turner in 1982 and has continued throughout his career, upskilling as technology changed. He became a qualified Trainer Assessor to mentor SES volunteers and improve the skills of the local unit. He further trained in Incident Management as an Operations Officer and was part of the Kangaroo Island fire response and the River Murray Flooding event. Simon is a great believer in lifelong learning and is very grateful to the Whyalla TAFE SA Campus for giving him so many opportunities to improve himself and continue contributing to his local community.
Melanie Bassham-Bert (she/her) is a driven and passionate person with a strong desire to make a positive impact in her world. With a background in retail, hospitality, events, and tourism, Melanie is now using her skills and knowledge in the Community Services sector. Melanie’s ultimate goal is to bring equity to vulnerable and at-risk Community members; she is committed to advocating and creating an environment of empowerment. Bringing a lived experience of domestic violence and mental health, and as an ADHDer, Melanie has a deep understanding of complex needs. She is passionate about travel, animal welfare, and volunteering for her local community, and Melanie is staunch in upskilling her personal and professional knowledge. Melanie is intolerant of social stratification, and speaks clearly, especially when her voice shakes.
Finalists who demonstrate enterprising vision, innovative flair, and a determination to succeed against the odds.
David Taylor (he/him) has held various positions in the security and investigations industry and has over 10 years of experience with the Country Fire Service. He has served in the Sampson Flat and Pinery, helped people on the frontlines, advised government on policy, encouraged compliance, and developed training material to teach the next generation, with a focus on inclusivity.
Erfanullah Abidi (he/him) was an interpreter and cultural adviser to Australian and NATO armed forces during the various conflicts in Afghanistan. He, and his immediate family, were evacuated to Australia to escape the Taliban retaliations for his work in August 2021. Erfan is actively involved in the community programs including coordination leadership course for refugees, he stands as Refugees Ambassador and Public Speaker for the Refugee Council of Australia, and is a Director member for the Afghan Community. He is also a member of the Adelaide Light Rotary club, and became the Governing member for Amicus Global in 2023. Alongside his engagement with society in Australia, he is also an organizer of the underground schools for girls in Afghanistan.
Nikko Menzel (he/him) is an advocate for plant conservation and ecology management, who believes education is key to success and resilience in this field. His studies at TAFE SA provided valuable insights into plant systems and emergency services, which he has applied to his career at the Botanic Gardens of SA and the Emergency Services Sector. Nikko has used his knowledge to educate others about the importance of managing our natural resources and actively trains current and future learners in his fields of expertise. He believes education is a tool for building resilience and encourages others to embrace it for personal and professional growth, and to join him in understanding our natural resources.
Jenna Philp (she/her) began her career as a volunteer with the RSPCA, very quickly becoming a team leader and then an OpShop manager. She has had severe anxiety, which can be a challenge, but it can also be overcome. Jenna lists her biggest achievements as helping animals be rescued and find ‘forever’ homes. Recently, she raised over $1,000 in the ‘Million Paws’ walk. In her spare time, Jenna helps other charities organise direct aid for those in need.
Finalists who are contributing to local, national, or international communities through the course of their employment or on a voluntary basis. Finalists must demonstrate substantial commitment to creating positive change.
Emma Harkness (she/her) is passionate about shaping a future generation where children and young people are agents in their own mental health. Through her work at Emerging Minds, Emma has supported the development of educational resources in areas such as childhood bullying, infant and toddler care, mental health for children with higher weight, understanding neuroscience and trauma support. The objective of these resources is to bolster and enhance the skill set of professionals engaged in working with children aged 0-12 years, one of our most vulnerable populations.
Brooke Mabbott (she/her) is a passionate horticulturist who has spent her career focusing on growing vegetables. She works as a harvest manager at an organic market garden and spends the rest of her time growing food for her local community. With the support of local council, Brooke has set up a verge community garden increasing her ability to grow for others. Brooke is a strong advocate for growing food at home and has found as many avenues as possible to educate and encourage people to grow their own food. In 2022 she was featured on a segment on Gardening Australia called 'Growing Community'.
Kiara Murphy (she/her) is a 2021 TAFE SA graduate. She has since also graduated with a Bachelor of Psychological Science in 2023. Kiara has been immersed in the Deaf community since birth, but has become an advocate and organiser since beginning her job with the Deaf Butterfly Effect. Her role has facilitated the development of Voices Off (for students and native users), Deafhood (for Deaf/HoH kids), and other social groups to flourish. Kiara was also an organiser of flagship events ‘Deaf Gain’ and ‘Deaf Festival’ during National Week of Deaf People 2023. Her goal is to empower the Deaf community and she aspires to contribute to literature about Deaf culture and identity.
Finalists who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and made a significant impact in promoting and preserving cultural diversity, celebrating diverse cultural traditions, fostering intercultural understanding, and enhancing inclusivity.
Faheem Samejo (he/him) is a passionate filmmaker, having transitioned from accounting to cinema after graduating from Adelaide College of Arts in 2017. He is the founder of Silverline Films, and his notable productions include "Javed Iqbal: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer" and "Shot Cut," with both receiving international acclaim. Additionally, he contributed to "STATELESS" as an actor. Beyond films, Faheem, as the former president of Sindhi Sangat South Australia, fervently champions community integration and inclusivity. His founding of KAYA Disability Support further underscores his dedication to uplifting diverse communities, and through film and advocacy, Faheem melds artistic vision with advocacy and action.
Lena Gasparyan’s (she/her) journey from Armenia to Australia embodies resilience. Armed with a Master's degree in International Relations, she overcame language barriers through TAFE SA, mastering English and earning certifications. Committed to social justice, human rights, and women's rights, she serves as a Senior Project Officer at the Multicultural Communities Council of SA. As a Cultural connoisseur, Lena thrives on connecting with diverse cultures, finding enrichment in multiculturalism. She is the first female President of the Armenian Cultural Association of South Australia, passionately guarding her cultural heritage. Devoted to South Australia, her vision includes establishing a social enterprise for a positive societal impact.
Finalists who are making a significant impact on the City of Adelaide through cultural, economic, or community contributions.
Sam Lau (he/him) is a Hong Kong-Australian actor, musician and theatre-maker, and has worked with companies such as Brink Productions (SA), London Artists Projects (UK), State Theatre Company SA (SA), Perform!Education (VIC), Contemporary Asian Australian Performance (NSW), and ActNow Theatre (SA). Sam is an accomplished musician, and combines his musicianship with the theatre by acting, performing live music and composing for theatre and film. In 2023, Sam and a group of collaborators set up Between Our Stories, a platform that cultivates a more integrated arts community in the SA Asian-Australian circles and pushes for representation of Asian-Australian artists in South Australia.
Lucy Rogers (she/her) has been working with SYC Ltd. in a Youth Worker role across various programs for the last six years. Her background in Youth Work is underpinned by the PERMA+ framework which has equipped her with the necessary skills to empower young people. Lucy’s work has made an impact on the lives of countless young people across the areas of education, employment, mental health and well-being as well as housing in Adelaide’s CBD.
Flynn Hawksworth (he/him) has always been passionate about food. In 2019, he was lucky enough to secure an apprenticeship with Adelaide Oval. During his time at Adelaide Oval, he has entered a number of culinary competitions – one of which resulted in winning the state final. After completing his apprenticeship, he was offered a full-time role in the kitchen brigade, primarily executing large scale functions and events. After starting his career feeding thousands of people every day, he looks forward to challenging himself in more intimate dining environments. Flynn’s colleagues at Adelaide Oval describe him as a determined, diligent, and an extremely talented young chef.
Stephanie James-Manttan (she/her) graduated from Adelaide Central School of Art (TAFE SA) in 2006 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Arts and Applied Design with a ceramics major. After graduating, Stephanie was selected to participate in the highly acclaimed two year Associate training Program at JamFactory. After completion, she successfully established her own arts practice selling work in leading retail showrooms, exhibiting in commercial and public galleries nationally. She has been collected in major public and private collections internationally. From January 2019 to August 2023, Stephanie was appointed as Head of the Ceramics Studio at JamFactory. During this period she transformed and enhanced the business capabilities of the facility whilst promoting culturally diversity and professional development opportunities.
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