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Passionate educator celebrates third graduation at Coffs Harbour

A male teacher faces the camera and around him sit primary school children


19 June 2024

When Nathan Portelli crossed the stage on Friday at the Southern Cross University Coffs Harbour graduation, it was not his first rodeo.

The Acting Deputy Principal at Korora Public School, lecturer and highly regarded mentor is a three-time Southern Cross graduate, having progressed from the Preparing for Success Program through to an Education degree and now a Master of Education.

“Teaching is my passion and every day I come to work I understand the importance of it.

“I’ve enjoyed the Masters. I particularly liked the structure and being able to work through it at my own pace as I balance that with the demands of my career,” says Nathan, who received coveted national accreditation in 2022 as a Highly Accomplished teacher, demonstrating exemplary practice.

Nathan – who also featured in a University video a few years ago – joined 209 graduands receiving their testamurs on 21 June at the Coffs Harbour campus.

Teaching is my passion. Every day I come to this job I understand the importance.

You can't take that lightly, you need to really respect it and that's why I try to give everything I have in each day to these

My name is Nathan Portelli and I'm a Southern Cross University Educational graduate.

After I finished year 12 I had a great opportunity with a feeder team for the Gold Coast Titans. Part of the requirement was that I was either working a certain amount of hours or studying full-time. I was thrown into a job working with children 1 to 6 years old and I instantly enjoyed that so I started studying at the Preparing for Success Program through Southern Cross which then led into starting studying full-time. If I look back at my time at Southern Cross I'm very thankful the staff they're real people they do the whole professional aspect really well but they also take the time to get to know you. They supported me by allowing me to study online particularly with the Summer School that's offered for those that are willing they can continue their study over summer. That flexibility is really a great thing.

Through Southern Cross I was awarded a scholarship to go and teach in Vietnam for three weeks, it was an amazing experience. Being an educational professional it was really refreshing visiting a country where education is just valued so highly.

I've now been teaching nearly three years at core public school. I do come every day and I want to learn and I grow and I want to get better at what I'm doing. It's one of those professions that the more you give the more you get back and the more you feel a sense of
achievement. You can turn a kid's day from being an average day to a really great day with just a few little comments.

And I think that is so powerful.

Celebrating an intense but rewarding journey

Among the cohort who joined Nathan on Friday was Bachelor of Nursing graduate and Coffs local Bianca de Jong.

“I did my last years of school during COVID in Coffs and then went straight to uni, so it’s been an intense but rewarding journey,” she said.

“I’m now working in the emergency department at the Coffs Harbour Base Hospital and I love it.

“It’s what I’ve wanted to do my whole life.”

“It’s been an intense but rewarding journey. I’m now working in the emergency department at the Coffs Harbour Base Hospital and I love it.  ”

A woman looking at the camera

Occasional speaker for the morning ceremony was Mr Pat Conaghan MP, Member for Cowper, while Head of Coffs Harbour campus and Dean of the Graduate School, Professor Les Christidis, addressed the afternoon graduation.

Professor Christidis said graduation is always an emotional day. “We’ve seen so many students grow and thrive over the course of their years with us.

“Graduation is the culmination of all those years of work and sacrifice for the students and their families. It’s fantastic to celebrate that together.”

The two Coffs Harbour ceremonies included graduates in Speech Pathology, Osteopathy, Nursing, Psychology, Sport and Exercise Science, Social Welfare and Social Work, Midwifery, Occupational Therapy, Mental Health, IT, Engineering Management, Science, Education, Arts, Business and Law, as well as nine research students.

Graduation was live streamed on the University's Facebook channel.

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