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​19-year-old Jake McNamara has capped off a big year after being awarded the 2016 Newcastle Knights Hunter TAFE Student of the Year on Wednesday 9 November.
 
Over the past two years with the club Jake has proven a tremendous role model for other players in the club, skilfully balancing his time between football, work and full-time study.
 
Jake debuted with the Knights as a National Youth Cup under 20s player in 2015 and is also employed by Woodbury-Civil.
 
In just two weeks, he will become a qualified surveyor after completing his Diploma of Surveying at the Newcastle TAFE Campus - the home training ground for the Knights’ NYC team.
 
“It was a big surprise getting the award,” McNamara said after being presented with the accolade at the Knights’ Study Hub.
 
“I’ve been battling away for the last couple of years trying to get my studies all done. I did my Certificate III and IV last year, and my Diploma this year.”
 
The Knights Hunter TAFE Student of the Year is presented to one outstanding NYC Player, recognising their commitment to education and work alongside their football career with the Knights.
 
Having nearly finished his time at TAFE now, McNamara says he can have peace of mind knowing he has balanced playing football with study.
 
“You don’t know what’s going to happen in footy with injuries and you don’t know who’s going to be better than you,” he explained.
 
“So obviously it’s good to have that balance and have something for the future that I can lean on.”
 
Alongside the announcement of the 2016 Newcastle Knights Hunter TAFE Student of the Year, the next generation of NYC cup players completed the NRL Playwise program at Hunter TAFE during their first week with the club.
 
15 new Knights’ recruits completed the week-long intensive program, which delivers critical and professional life skills to new recruits and aims to facilitate pathways to further work and study opportunities.