Student stories


Fascinated by technical challenges as a child and drawn towards design projects at school, Reece Jongenelis found VET subjects to be a natural fit with his career aspirations.

“My father and I are very similarly minded in terms of technical aptitude and interests,” Reece said.

“Over the years I would watch him build things and would learn from his techniques and experience. This persuaded me to start my own projects and with his guidance I created amazing things.

“My first large project was for my Year 10 PLP. For my personal project, with the accompanying skills I developed through my Certificate II in Engineering, I created a downhill go-cart.”

Reece said his teachers, impressed by his creation, which comprised a recycled sack truck and green machine slider, offered him more access to the school’s technical studies workshop and greater freedoms with his school project design work.

“In turn, I developed a sense of achievement, decided to push myself further and started taking bigger steps towards my future career in the technical industries,” he said.

Reece’s decision to pursue a Certificate II in Electrotechnology, led to him securing a school-based apprenticeship as an electrician. He is currently completing his Certifcate III while employed with P-One Electrical.

During his SACE, he combined his VET subjects with Mathematics Pathways and English Pathways, as well as undertaking the Research Project A, which focussed on designing a winch for wake boarders.

“Visiting our shack on the River Murray throughout my whole life has made me a very keen water skier,” Reece said.

“But with skiing being a team exercise, I needed something practical and affordable to allow me to enjoy the sport independently. The solution is a wake winch which replaces a boat and can be operated by only one person.”

Reece’s commitment to his training and work and interest in innovation has seen him named the 2015 School-based Apprentice of the Year at the South Australian Training Awards.

Reflecting on the PLP process, Reece says: “The PLP was structured in such a way to allow me to open my perspective towards what is possible.

“This also goes for the career building aspects of PLP. Through the program I was able to actively visualise where my future was heading and what I needed to change in order to shape my future to match my aspirations.”

As to his future goals, Reece says: “The greatest pleasure to me in life is the ability to influence others and make a positive impact in society. As the electrical industry is growing so rapidly, opportunities arise for world changing innovation.

“Ultimately, the SACE has offered me a pathway to the future I wish to create for myself through its flexibility and study options. I have grown my core skills of writing, communication, and mathematics which I have been able to apply to all aspects of my life.

“I look forward to what the future holds for myself and my peers,” he added.


When it came to clarifying her career options, Sally McLoughlin found that the Personal Learning Plan (PLP) process struck the right chord.

“The PLP was very useful and left me with a clear idea of the two possible career paths that I could pursue - music instrumental teaching or interior design,” Sally said.

Sally also found the PLP helpful in narrowing down the specific university courses, skills and prerequisite subjects she would need.

“I didn’t know much about the specific occupations I wanted to do or the further study required to get there, but the research task cleared up any confusion.

“The SACE, through the PLP, has helped me imagine my future dream career.

“It has also helped me gain more motivation as I now have a better idea about the direction I am heading and what I need to study to get there.”

Sally said another benefit of the PLP process was that it not only provided her with the know-how to research job opportunities but also gain skills in the job application process, including drafting a resume and the interview process.

On completion of her SACE, Sally plans to audition for the Elder Conservatorium of Music at the University of Adelaide where she hopes to either study Music Performance or Music Education and Pedagogy.

“These courses will hopefully guide me to a career in private instrumental tuition or classroom music teaching.”

In choosing her career path, Sally says her cello teacher was also a factor.

“I’m inspired by the way she motivates me and empowers me to not only be a good musician but a good person to others.

“Importantly, she loves her job and I hope also to have a happy future. I feel that I could also inspire younger children as she has done for me,” she said.

For students about to undertake the PLP, Sally advises them to not get stressed if they do not have firm ideas about their future.

“Knowing your ideal future career isn’t completely necessary as the PLP teaches you about the things you need to consider and the way to prepare for any career path you choose.”

Reflecting on her SACE experience to date, Sally said: “As well as career skills, the SACE is teaching me how to set goals for myself and achieve them while reflecting on my process and making improvements along the way.”

Sally said the favourite part of her SACE studies so far has been the greater freedom in subject choice and the opportunity to study what she feels is relevant and enjoyable.


While attaining his motorcycle licence, Jay Dyer was instilled with the importance of rider safety.

For his Research Project topic he investigated how motorcycle protective gear should be improved in South Australia.

“Motorcycles have been a personal interest of mine since I was very young. Getting my license has made this grow significantly,” he said.

“When first starting the Research Project I was a bit negative about it but, as I progressed, I realised the subject gave me the chance to explore my passion.”

Jay advises other students to choose a topic they enjoy but are not expert in, as this will help push their learning boundaries. He also says it is important to be disciplined when addressing your chosen topic.

“Keeping the research focused can be difficult. Sometimes my research was on topic, but not necessarily relevant to the question. It can be very challenging,” Jay said.

Jay said it was also important to remain adaptable and flexible. “There were times where I had to change my approach. Mostly, the way I thought about information and substantiating findings with more than one source.”

After completing school, Jay is planning on studying at university and pursuing a career in teaching.

“I believe the Research Project is preparing me for university as it has shown me how to improve my report writing skills as well as how to evaluate sources,” he added.