HER vast knowledge of the vocational education and training system and commitment to learning have earned Esther Smith a place among the state finalists of the annual NSW Training Awards.
Ms Smith recently won the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander VET Student Award at the South West Regional Finals.
She is currently studying a Diploma of Counselling at Evocca College's Liverpool branch.
Her branch manager nominated her for the regional award.
"It was wonderful to be nominated for the award but to win was something else entirely," Ms Smith said.
'I'm passionate about my studies and the work I do in my local Aboriginal community, so to have that recognised is very special."
Ms Smith left her full-time role as a disability support worker to take care of her husband after he was diagnosed with cancer.
Before he died in 2013, he encouraged her to do something for herself and continue her studies.
As a working mother of eight, with five adopted children and eight grandchildren, she enrolled at Evocca.
"I've gained employment at Gandangara Aboriginal Land Council, and hope to graduate from Evocca College this November," Ms Smith said.
"I want to continue my community service work and one day own my own counselling practice."
State winners will be named at the NSW Training Awards presentation in September.