Rochelle Ballard from Longreach State High School has placed as a runner-up in the Food and Beverage category in the Salute to Excellence Awards. Picture: Contributed.
Rochelle Ballard from Longreach State High School has placed as a runner-up in the Food and Beverage category in the Salute to Excellence Awards. Picture: Contributed.

Longreach student wins big at state tourism awards

LONGREACH’S Rochelle Ballard has placed as a runner-up in the Food and Beverage category in the 2020 Salute to Excellence Awards.

Hosted by the Queensland Tourism Industry Council, the Salute to Excellence Awards acknowledges secondary students, employers, schools and registered training organisations for their contribution in the delivery of tourism, food and beverage and cookery qualifications through VETiS, and school based apprenticeships or traineeships.

Announced virtually on July 27, the Longreach State High School student said she couldn’t believe it when her name was called as a runner-up.

“I was so overwhelmed with excitement, it’s a really big honour,” Rochelle said.

“It made me realise I’m capable when faced with challenges I thought to be out of my reach.

“I haven’t come from a fine dining background, having always worked at your classic ‘outback pub’. And for me to achieve and submit such a high standard with the little resources I had, amazed me and my family.”

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She said she was approached by school staff, who believed she was the best candidate for the competition.

“I’ve been in the hospitality industry for quite some time and they knew I was passionate about my work,” she said.

“If it wasn’t for my career guidance councillor and the confidence she had in me, I wouldn’t be where I am now in the industry.”

She said winning in the Salute to Excellence Awards would hopefully allow her to venture into different levels within the industry.

“I’m hoping to work my way up to some type of events management role and with a win like this, fingers crossed it will make it possible,” she said.

There will be an official dinner in 2021 to celebrate all the winners of the Salute to Excellence Awards.