Coming from a Braidwood family of wool classers, Ellie Weaver's successful career in beauty therapy is a significant move away from tradition. The 20-year-old went to Braidwood Central School, and upon graduating, noticed there wasn't much demand for beauty services in the town or many beauty therapists. "I was always interested in the industry without knowing too much about it," she said. After getting a few treatments, she became inspired to study beauty therapy. "I've always been passionate about caring for people and making them look and feel good so knowing I have the skills to do that is very rewarding," she said. Ms Weaver was recently named Tourism and Experience Services Student of the Year for the South region at the TAFE NSW Excellence Awards. READ MORE: Ms Weaver dedicated 18 months to her diploma in beauty therapy, tallying up thousands of kilometres to attend classes five days a week at TAFE in Moruya. She said one of her teachers, Karen Bennett, was a driving force in helping her excel. "The way she explains everything and how she works as a therapist was inspiring for me," she said. Ms Weaver dedicated her award to her mum, Kylie Bunn, who has supported her "the whole way". Today, Ellie is practicing her passion at Spa by the Sea at Bannister's Hotel in Mollymook. "Sometimes we have people coming in who have been diagnosed with an illness or are feeling unwell, so it's nice that I can make a big difference to their day." Ms Weaver admits she wasn't expecting to get a job interview at Bannister's, a renowned luxury hotel and spa which is home to Rick Stein's celebrated seafood restaurant. "Within five months, I was promoted to supervisor." She said TAFE and the Braidwood District Education Foundation have been instrumental in kickstarting her career. The foundation, which helps young people to reach their vocational goals, supplied grants to Ms Weaver in 2021 and 2022 to cover the costs of her studies, textbooks and fuel. "I work with a great team in a happy, supportive environment and we even have a view of the sea so it's the perfect place to do my dream job!"