WITH careers in South Africa, China, Vietnam and Thailand already under his belt, James Bruce of Hervey Bay has set his vocation compass in a new direction Down Under.
The 46-year-old former military man, salesman, restaurateur and English teacher is starting the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) Bachelor of Nursing program with plans to work in aged care.
Mr Bruce was among the 100 new students who attended the first day of Semester 2 Orientation at USQ Fraser Coast in Hervey Bay yesterday (July 13).
Born in Cape Town, South Africa, at 20 years of age Mr Bruce was conscripted into the South African Defence Force and served with the Navy in ocean mine warfare.
“Back then we had to do national service. I’ve got no regrets. You make good friends and it gives you time to decide what it is you want to do with your future,” Mr Bruce said.
“I ended up going to university but not enjoying what I was doing so went into the workforce as a sales representative with Panasonic.
“In 1995 I moved to Hong Kong which was still a British colony.
“My father was British so I had an English passport and was able to go straight to Hong Kong where I got a job with a South African company at what was then the new airport. We built the runways and aprons in 1996 and ’97.
“After that I backpacked around Australia but I didn’t actually live here.
“In 2000 I started teaching English in Hong Kong. I was working for a language training centre and they asked me to go to Beijing because they were moving into the mainland Chinese market and wanted to open a school.
“I moved to Beijing, set up the new school and lived there for three years before moving to Thailand where I continued teaching in government secondary schools.
“The past 10 years I’ve been living in Vietnam where I owned and operated two restaurants, not at the same time.
“In Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) I opened a bar and grill in 2009. Two years later, with an Italian partner I opened a wine and pizza restaurant that ran for another two years.
“It was a very competitive market with a lot of multi-national companies coming into Ho Chi Minh City making business very difficult for us.
“So I went back into teaching for three years and came to Australia last August.”
Mr Bruce said he had been thinking about making another career change when he met an Australian friend who now lives in Hervey Bay.
“His wife had completed an aged care certificate and suggested I move here and do the same course because the health industry was growing.
“My mother was born in Bathurst so I’ve always had an Australian passport. In August 2014, I came out here and did the Aged Care Certificate III.
“In December I got a job at Baycrest Retirement Village in Hervey Bay. Colleagues there encouraged me to further my studies in nursing at USQ.
“So that’s how I ended up here at USQ Fraser Coast.”
USQ Fraser Coast Orientation activities continue this week, allowing commencing students to get to know University leaders and future classmates.
The USQ Market Day will be held in the campus at 161 Old Maryborough Road, Hervey Bay, on Wednesday (July 22) from 11am until 1pm.
For more information, visit www.usq.edu.au/orientation.
Photo: A variety of international careers have led James Bruce of Hervey Bay to study nursing at USQ Fraser Coast.