Coffs Harbour TAFE helps Mando Ido achieve his dream of studying at university

Mando Ido achieved his university dreams after studying with TAFE NSW in Coffs.

HAVING escaped war-torn Iraq, Mando Ido has credited TAFE NSW for helping him find a new life in Coffs Harbour and be accepted into university.

In 2014, Mando and his family fled Iraq and took refuge in Turkey.

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Five years later, the Ido family migrated to Australia in search of greater opportunities for Mando and his siblings.

With dreams of attending University to study medicine, Mando says his mental health took a toll when he first arrived in Coffs Harbour at nineteen years old, as his education never progressed past his year eleven studies in Turkey.

“I thought the only way to get into university was through high school because they don’t have other pathways in Turkey or Iraq,” said Mando.

“But I met with an immigration caseworker when I first arrived in Australia, and they recommended that I go to TAFE NSW to learn English and complete my high school studies.”

Soon after, Mando completed three English Language qualifications and a Community Pharmacy course at TAFE NSW Coffs Harbour, which helped him gain employment at a local pharmacy, the Good Price Pharmacy at the Bailey Centre in Coffs.

He continued studying for a Certificate III in Career Preparation, a one-year HSC equivalent that provides students with a Tertiary Entrance Score.

Achieving a score of 89, Mando applied to several universities and was delighted to be accepted into the University of Sydney to study a Bachelor of Science (Anatomy and Physiology).

Mando says he couldn’t have done it without the support and advice he received from his TAFE NSW teachers.

“When you come to a new country, you feel blind in some ways.

“You rely on other people to guide you, but I was very lucky to have supportive teachers who talked to universities with me and helped me choose the courses I needed to gain entry.

“I have studied in different countries and languages but have never seen teachers as committed and supportive as my TAFE teachers.

“They supported me in my studies, in achieving my goals and linked me to a student counsellor when they realised my struggles.

“Now that I am in university, I hope to become a psychiatrist so that I can help people that face similar struggles with education roadblocks,” said Mando.

TAFE NSW Director of Career Pathways, Aboriginal Languages and Employability Skills, Dianne Whittaker said TAFE NSW teachers and career counsellors can help migrants, refugees, and those who didn’t finish high school realise alternate pathways to achieve their goals.

“We recognise the unique challenges faced by refugee students, just like Mando.

“It’s not just completing coursework but understanding new systems and assimilating into a new environment, often without the support of family or friends.

“Mando’s success story is a testament to the dedication and passion of himself and our TAFE NSW teachers,” said Dianne.

With his university studies now underway, Mando says he’s glad his siblings have access to education and opportunity in Australia.

He’ll be home to Coffs to see them at uni mid-year break.

He comes from a large immediate family and has relatives in the area too.

He takes on the responsibility as an interpreter to ensure his family members can attend health appointments, book mechanics, and go grocery shopping.

Amongst his interests and hobbies are reading non-fiction which helps him learn English faster.

He loves visiting Coffs library.

He is also a coffee lover and is looking forward to being back at his favourite café in Coffs; shout out to the Happy Frog.


TAFE NSW Coffs Harbour student Mando Ido on campus at his new education ‘home’, The University of Sydney.

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