St George Illawarra Dragons prop Dan Hunt was honoured for his ongoing studies at the Illawarra TAFE Awards held at City Beach Function Centre in Wollongong recently.
On a night that recognised both student and staff excellence, Dan was awarded the Illawarra TAFE Outstanding Student award in the area of Community and Family Services.
This is an area that Hunt began studying in last year along with fellow Dragons players Joel Thompson, Trent Merrin and Josh Dugan.
Hunt, along with the players mentioned, completed his Certificate 4 in Community Services Work and then continued with his studies to also complete a Cert 4 in Alcohol and Other Drugs and a Certificate 4 in Mental Health.
As part of these studies, Hunt, along with the other players , did a large amount of work with a number of community groups within the Illawarra region and their effect on many of the participants within these organisations was noted at the presentation.
Paul Heptonstall , Head of Education and Welfare at the NRL was present at the awards ceremony and gave Dan special praise
“What Dan has managed to achieve over a number of years is truly exceptional,” said Heptonstall.
“With the support of the Dragons, the NRL and the Rugby League Players Association we have all been working towards having athletes leave our game as better people, and Dan is certainly an example of this.
“Dan has recently been appointed by the NRL as a State of Mind ambassador, helping players and the community deal with Mental Health, and this award certainly reinforces his ability to succeed in this area.”
Hunt was proud of his efforts, and reflected on how he came to achieve such an honour.
“The whole time I have been at the Dragons I have always jumped at any opportunity to further my education,” said Hunt.
“I had undertaken a number of courses but working in the community was something I was passionate about and this gave me the confidence to take it a step further and really make a difference.
“Currently being out injured, the study and the work in the community has really given me another area of focus while I have been off the field and I’m excited about continuing with it in the future.”
Hunt also thanked his teacher Anne Barrow, who was also presented with a TAFE award for the work she has done with the Dragons playing group in delivery the Community Services courses.
Barrow received the award “Exceeding Our Customer’s Expectations” for developing and implementing a program that has allowed a number of NRL and NYC players gain qualifications in the field of Community Services.
“Anne has been outstanding. She took a real interest in Trent, Joel, Josh and myself and gave us the support and confidence to get through,” said Hunt.
“Everyone at TAFE was great and the fact we have all continued on with extra study shows the passion she put in us.
Hunt, along with Thompson and Drew Hutchison, is currently studying his Diploma in Community services and is working within both Dragons Community and with the NRL whilst he continues his recovery from a recent knee operation.