When Carine Kapiamba arrived in Australia as a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo she had no English and few prospects. But she did have a dream—for a better future for herself and her four children—and with typical determination and fortitude, she set about making that dream come true.
"In a few short years I have come from being unable to speak to anyone to being a public speaker and lecturer," said Carine."I have a job that I love and financial security. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming. The fact that it's all real is down to my vocational education and training (VET) studies. They were my passport to the future."
Soon after she arrived in Australia, Carine began a Certificate I and III in Spoken and Written English at the Charles Darwin University (CDU). On completion, her teachers recommended further study to improve her English and gain practical business skills. She has now completed a Certificate II, III and IV in Business, a Diploma of Business Administration, a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and a Bachelor of Commerce degree, majoring in Management and Human Resources.
A stand-out student, Carine received the inaugural Charles See Kee Leadership Scholarship in 2011 and was the Northern Territory Vocational Student of the Year finalist at the 2011 Australian Training Awards.
Carine puts much of her success down to the practical, relevant and hands-on training she received at CDU. "I loved that I was able to learn in a simulated environment which was just like a real office," said Carine. "I learnt about the expected behaviours, how to talk on the phone and to use a computer. These may sound like very basic skills, but it was exactly what I needed as a stepping stone to becoming employable and build a career path."
As a passionate believer in the role of education in transforming lives, and a proud member of the VET Alumni, Carine is now taking every opportunity to spread that message by speaking at community, government and business forums.
"Thanks to VET I've been able to achieve a great deal from very limited beginnings," she said"I want to inspire and motivate others to do likewise and as well as public speaking, I have now started my own business which focusses on empowering migrants to fulfil their potential in Australia. My message is that if I can do it, you can too," she said