Graduates of the 2014 optical dispensing course at Western Sydney Institute and Sydney TAFE Randwick have celebrated their achievements at the 34th optical dispensing graduation celebration dinner and presentation of awards.
Interest in the career of optical dispensing is swelling if the number of students who graduated from the 2014 Western Sydney Institute (OTEN) and Sydney TAFE Randwick certificate IV courses in optical dispensing is anything to go by.
There were 156 Certificates received by graduates on Friday 5 June, among them OTEN prize winners Jennifer Castillo; Elissa Tripodi and Erin Anderson; and Sydney RAFE Randwick prize winners Jenneth Graham, Anna Popova and Mitchell Wood. The TAFE NSW State Medal for Certificate IV in Optical Dispensing was awarded to Jenneth Graham, recognising her outstanding achievement in attaining the highest average mark in the State in an approved course, among other criteria.
John Jackson Acknowledged
The 34th optical dispensing celebration dinner and presentation of awards was hosted by Randwick TAFE teacher James Gibbins who describe the evening as “a shining example of TAFE and industry collaboration”.
In his presentation to guests who included graduates, their family and friends, TAFE staff, ADOA representatives and industry associates, Mr. Gibbins took the opportunity to acknowledge the passing of former ADOA President John Jackson and to welcome Mr. Jackson’s wife Jean and son Peter, also a former president of ADOA.
Treat every person who walks into your practice as if they are a VIP. It does not matter who it is. Young or old, rich or poor. They all deserve your full attention, skills, knowledge and professionalism
Speaking to the audience, Mr. Gibbins said, “This is the very first time that our very own John Jackson OAM is not here with us to coordinate the evening, to host it and to celebrate your success. He is with us in spirit having passed away last September.
“John Jackson has been the only person, along with his dear wife Jean, to have attended all 33 graduate presentations and he was the host as well; he coordinated them all.
“John Jackson has served our industry with leadership and dignity for decades. He has held just about every position available in optical including President of the International Opticians Assoc, Chairman of the NSW Licensing Board, Chairman of the Optical Dispensers Education Trust and President of ADOA. John was awarded the ADOA award for service in 2005, the Order of Australia Medal in 2009 and he was our very own guest of honour in 2013.”
Sydney TAFE Institute Director David Riordan delivered acknowledgement of country and the official TAFE welcome before acknowledging the significant contribution that John Jackson made to the industry over many years.
Additionally Mr. Riordan recognised friends and families who had supported the evening’s graduates through a course of study that he described as a “journey”.
“The difference between TAFE students and university students, I always say, is that TAFE students have often got lives outside of their study; families, jobs, commitments and a whole range of things; and whether you studied online, face to face or in a blended model, that is an enormous achievement…. I congratulate every single one of you…”
He also thanked “the quiet achievers… teaching staff and trainers that provide enormous support to our graduates”.
“We pride ourselves on having the best vocational education training teachers in the country and I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the students and the staff to all of our teachers.”
Mr. Riordan said recent changes to the Sydney TAFE course at Randwick had been enormously successful.
“This is an indication of a success story… a few years ago optical dispensing was a quiet and small section of TAFE… we made a decision to invest, to expand and to move to Randwick.
“That was a bit of a gamble on our part, our numbers weren’t great…. sometimes you make decisions that are risks and you take those risks… This is one decision I am incredibly proud of. We moved, we invested money, we refurbished, we reinvigorated our partnerships with industry…
“On top of that we took a risk to create a health precinct at Randwick… of course with our links with Prince of Wales Hospital, University of New South Wales, St Vincent Hospital and a range of private hospitals… this has worked really well to have a lot of our health professionals studying in a state of the art health precinct that we have invested heavily into.”
Mr. Riordan congratulated “all of the people from Randwick and Sydney TAFE that had the vision to be able to make the decision”. He said in 2014 the number of students enrolling for optical dispensing through Sydney TAFE had quadrupled and in 2015 that number increased again by 50 per cent. “That’s incredible.” said Mr. Riordan.
He said, “TAFE enables people to get the job they want, improve on the job they currently have or go on to further study”.
With that final message of triumph, the graduates received their awards and, with friends, family, teaching staff and industry representatives, proceeded to celebrate their achievements for the remainder of the evening under a light show that seemed to have been created just for them.
Words of Encouragement
In an inspiring speech that reflected on his own career, guest of honour, New Zealand Dispensing Optician and Director of Optiblocks, Steve Stenersen congratulated the graduates and encouraged them to aspire to excellence using three key ingredients: CPD; empathy and personal pride (mixed with passion).
“I liken a new graduate to a teenager who has just passed their drivers license. You have the piece of paper, you have a car, hopefully, but you still have a lot to learn, and until then, look out everyone else on the road,” explained Mr. Stenersen.
“Some dispensing opticians are happy with their piece of paper, they are not driven to advance their career and happily go into what I call cruise mode. Others strive to advance their skills and become excellent, highly skilled opticians. It is my hope that you will all become the latter.”
Speaking of his own experience in practice with his partner Sue Kain, Mr. Stenersen said, “We used the skills gained through our original course and CPD to be able to assess customer’s problems, fit the glasses correctly and ensure the frame was correct for their facial features.
“We displayed empathy and listened and questioned them when they had problems. We asked, were the glasses heavy, uncomfortable or even painful to wear? We recognised the importance of each stage of dispensing from frame selection to final fitting. We learnt, understood and practiced the triangle of force when fitting our glasses.
“And we had personal pride. We made sure that we delivered the best service and skill we could and had our clients return to ensure that there was nothing that we had missed.”
Mr. Stenersen’s parting words of wisdom were poignant: “Treat every person who walks into your practice as if they are a VIP. It does not matter who it is. Young or old, rich or poor. They all deserve your full attention, skills, knowledge and professionalism.”