Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Benalla student tops the region

Benalla's Joda Plex was named Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE's student of the year at her graduation this month.

TONI BRIENT April 25, 2014 3:34am

Benalla’s Joda Plex (centre) with Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE chair Michael Tehan (left) and chief executive Paul Culpan (right)


Joda Plex still remembers visiting her great-grandmother in an aged care home as a child.

‘‘From a very early age, I thought that one day it would be nice to make a difference and help people like that,’’ Ms Plex said.

It might have taken a few decades, but the Benalla woman has achieved her dream.

After studying a Diploma of Nursing at Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE, Ms Plex is now a personal care worker at Cooinda Village aged care facility.

At the graduation ceremony in Wangaratta on April 10, she was named student of the year for health services.

Ms Plex was also named the institute’s student of the year across all four campuses.

She will this year go on to compete for a state-wide TAFE student of the year award.

Nursing teacher Glenda Janas said Ms Plex was a model student, and she hoped her story would encourage others to further their education.

On top of her studies, Ms Plex is a single mother to Willow, 12, and Terry, 10.

When she commenced studying two years ago, she was also juggling four jobs.

‘‘She decided to perhaps better herself, so she’s a fantastic example of what our TAFEs are really all about,’’ Mrs Janas said.

‘‘She is representative of people we want to see coming to TAFE.

‘‘But ... she’s the one who’s done this, because she has so much talent.

‘‘She’ll go along way and she will be a great nurse.’’

Ms Plex praised the institute’s teachers — especially Mrs Janas, who she called ‘‘inspirational’’ — but said the biggest support during her studies was her family.

She rewarded Willow and Terry with a trip to Indonesia after completing her course in December.

‘‘They’ve have been brilliant the whole time,’’ Ms Plex said.

‘‘We did all our homework together; we’d sit around the table over dinner and I gave them mini lectures about all the different kinds of medical things I’d been learning that day.

‘‘At exam time, they’d give me pop quizzes, and they’d listen to my oral presentation the night before.’’


Ms Plex said was enjoying her work in aged-care, and also hoped to branch out into other types of nursing in the future.

‘‘I think I’m a more hands-on emergency-type girl,’’ she said.

‘‘I want to really expand on what I’ve learnt and use my brain a bit more.

‘‘But I also love my job at Cooinda, so I’m thinking about doing both.’’

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