CHANGING from a cabinet-maker to a medical researcher isn’t your normal career path.
But for Vincent Versace, it was a decision that made sense.
“It’s just a matter of putting your best foot forward the whole time,” Dr Versace told students at a Deakin University career session in Warrnambool yesterday.
In 1993 and in the middle of year 10, he made the snap decision to leave school to take on a cabinet-making apprenticeship in Mount Gambier.
“My uncle was in the building trade and it was encouraged on my father’s side. I went back and did my exams to finish the first part of the South Australian Certificate of Education.”
Dr Versace finished the apprenticeship in 1997 and worked as a boat builder in Port Adelaide before returning to Mt Gambier to work as a cabinet-maker.
In 1999 he was about to open his own business.
“I questioned myself if this was what I really wanted to be doing in the long term. The answer was a resounding no.”
Dr Versace sat a special admission test at Mt Gambier TAFE which eventually led to a Bachelor of Science, Fisheries Management and Aquaculture at Deakin’s Warrnambool campus. “I liked the sound of the Warrnambool course and moved here in 2000.”
After his three-year bachelor, he completed his honours in molecular genetics and then a PhD on using satellite imagery on assessing water resources and land cover.
He also worked for the CSIRO in Hobart on tuna genetics, radio-tracking fish in the Rocklands area and with the Department of Primary Industries in resource management.
“I found the university quite an addictive place to be. Everyone wanted to be helpful and to share knowledge,” he said.
“At times life might not seem like it’s going the way you want but the students will have time on their side. I still haven’t ruled out career changes in my working life.
“We live in a society where you can be upwardly mobile if you choose to. We’re lucky to have a university in Warrnambool and other options for studying remotely.
“It’s just a matter of putting your best foot forward the whole time,” he said.
About 30 South West TAFE VCAL students attended the sessions with industry experts to learn about the different paths they have taken as part of a partnership program hosted in the Faculty of Arts and Education.
The speakers also included a female civil engineer, Deakin lecturer, newspaper editor, performing artist, nursing student, social worker, a vet and an accountant.