To celebrate on-campus graduation ceremonies commencing at the Charles Sturt University Bathurst campus, two computer science graduates share their story and what they are most looking forward to about their ceremonies.
For 49-year-old Bachelor of Computer Science graduate Mr David Taylor (pictured), his graduation has been almost a decade in the making.
He’s been working in the IT sector since he was 16, and it was nearly ten years ago that he decided to take the plunge and get a degree.
He studied part-time while juggling work and raising a family in hopes of improving his job opportunities.
“I love writing software but in 34 years I've only managed to have a couple of jobs that I really enjoyed, and they were both before I was 30,” he said.
“At the time, my children were all over eight, I was working from home full-time, and I was desperate for a new job – it seemed like a good time to try and finally finish this degree.”
Finish the degree he did, which he says is thanks in part to the support at Charles Sturt.
“What I appreciated most was the flexibility Charles Sturt University showed around my circumstances – that's what ultimately allowed me to finish the degree,” Mr Taylor said.
“I am attending my graduation ceremony because this degree has been a long time coming and I'm the first in my family to graduate from university – none of us even finished school.
“So, I want to mark the occasion.
“Although my wife and in-laws are pleased, I wish I'd finished it while my parents were still around because they'd have been thrilled.”
Since completing his degree, Mr Taylor has secured his dream job in the digital agriculture team at Department of Primary Industries (DPI).
“My lecturer Dr Michael Antolovich suggested I speak to my now-boss when I asked for recommendations of interesting local people to try and get a project with,” Mr Taylor said.
“My boss was very generous with his time and during a visit to their office before COVID-19 hit, he told me about all the cool things they do and that was all it took for me to want to work there.”
Mr Taylor was determined to make a good impression, so as part of his university studies he took one of their capstone projects and incorporated his own ideas into it.
“It was amazing luck that a position became available in the DPI team, so I had my first batch of interview nerves in a very long time,” he said.
“We're quite settled in Orange, so to get such a great job locally is amazing.
“All I want is to work on interesting problems with smart people.
“I've only been with the team for a month and I've already had more fun than in the last 15 years, work-wise.
“I'm loving learning new software and hardware systems and talking to producers about how they do their jobs on orchards and farms and what might help them.”
Proud Wiradjuri man from Lithgow Mr Eli George (pictured) is another Bachelor of Computer Science graduate who has been eagerly awaiting his ceremony.
“I was definitely disappointed when graduations were deferred last year, but I understood that with everything happening because of COVID-19 it was necessary to postpone the ceremony,” he said.
“Getting a random email saying that I have graduated is definitely a bit anti-climatic compared to a big ceremony and dressing up to celebrate your achievements, so I’m super pumped for it this year!
“After the many hours of hard work that students put into university, graduates should be able to have a sense of achievement and closure to that part of their lives, especially in such a tumultuous time.”
Mr George studied in the Charles Sturt School of Computing and Mathematics in Bathurst while living in Lithgow, and said that even after the many months since he finished his degree, he’s very excited to be able to attend his graduation ceremony.
“All my family are excited, especially my mum,” he said. “She is attending with my dad and my sister, and they are all very excited for something they did not expect to happen at all, as well as being extremely proud of me!
“I’m really looking forward to accepting my bachelor’s degree in my gown in front of all the graduates and their families, and finally throwing my cap into the air!”
Mr George said he has always had an affinity with computers and programming has always interested him as one of the newest skills in the profession.
“Since finishing university, I am now a software developer at an awesome cutting-edge e-learning company in Lithgow called Message Train,” he said.
“The programming skills that I learned at Charles Sturt University, as well as a few other important skills regarding computers and how real businesses operate in a tech-forward capacity, have really come in handy in contributing to my position at Message Train.”
Mr George said he has no new career ambitions at the moment, although he might eventually return to university for further study.
“I love my current position as I am learning new things on the job every day, and I’m happy to continue to contribute,” he said.