5 JULY 2023: Ana Da Silva was 13 when she arrived in Australia from Brazil speaking no English. Last month she was awarded her Diploma in Human Resources Management.

She is next planning to enrol for her degree studies in September.

Ana emigrated with her mother and her ex-husband, both of whom worked in the meat industry. “He was a slicer and she was a labourer,” she recalled.

“When I started school I couldn’t speak English at all, so it was one of worst struggles that I had living here. But with a lot of effort I started to communicate better with other students and teachers.

“At 16 I had to decide what I wanted to do – I tried many things – but the one thing that I believe I’m good at is dealing with people. So, when I was 17, I started to study a Certificate IV in Human Resources through TAFE while working as a labourer in a boning room. It was hard working by day and studying at night.

“Then I had to get an extra job as a cleaner to help me pay for my studies. I would start work early in the morning and not finish until 9.30pm – sometimes working weekends too.

“I worked those two jobs for nearly 12 months and saved money to go back to study – this time for a diploma in HR. Luckily, the government had just introduced no fees if you were aged under 24 and I qualified.”

She joined ACC 15 months ago and took only six months to complete her diploma while working here. “I work my shift and after then I study. It’s good having people at work around me who have knowledge and helped me with my course.”

Pictured: Dogged, determined and now a diploma-holder: Ana Da Silva.