New QUT graduates Jack and Bhosten Savage spent last year studying remotely from two different cities, but yesterday the father and son reunited in Brisbane for their second graduation ceremony this summer.
Bhosten graduated with his Bachelor of Urban Development (Honours) last night, while dad Jack graduated with his Graduate Certificate in Business (Public Sector Management) before Christmas.
Both were able to attend “in-person” ceremonies at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, thanks to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and QUT spacing out smaller graduation ceremonies over summer.
Jack and Bhosten are among QUT’s 136 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander graduates for 2020.
Jack is a descendant of Poruma, Mauar and Erub Islands in the Torres Strait and Bhosten also has ancestry from the Bidjara and Dunghutti nation from his mother’s family.
In addition to their formal graduation ceremonies, they also celebrated their achievements in December at QUT’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pre-graduation Ceremony.
Jack and Bhosten's new qualifications will further strengthen their already impressive careers.
Bhosten is a graduate engineer with CPB Contractors on Brisbane’s Cross River Rail project and Jack is a Detective Senior Sergeant with the Queensland Police Service (QPS) and Officer in Charge of Mackay’s Criminal Investigation Branch.
The pair weren’t the only family members studying at QUT last year … Bhosten’s younger brother has a year left of his behavioural science degree and his older brother is studying business.
Their mum Suzanne also has a QUT connection – she works at the Oodgeroo Unit, which is the university’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student support centre.
“Dad has a Bachelor of Policing in Criminal Investigation from Charles Sturt University, so he was the first one to get a degree,” Bhosten said.
“A lot of Indigenous kids are the first in family to go through high school and the first to go to uni, but we’ve had a great role model in dad and our parents have always encouraged us to study and go to uni.”
That said, Bhosten wanted to skip uni at first and do an apprenticeship after high school.
“I didn’t do an OP at school because I wanted to be a carpenter,” he said.
“Then I thought I better get serious and go to uni. I did a Diploma of Business through TAFE while I was in Year 12 so I used that to apply.”
Bhosten originally enrolled in a property economics degree at QUT but then switched to a Bachelor of Urban Development (Honours) with a construction management major.
It’s a four-year degree though, which presented a challenge given he’d set himself a goal of only being at uni for four years and had already studied property economics for a year.
“So I did five subjects instead of four each semester and finished my course in three years,” he said.
Amazingly, he also worked full-time while completing that increased study load.
And now he’s decided he’s not ready to give up the books after all. He has enrolled in a law degree, with the ultimate aim of being a construction lawyer.
“I think construction and infrastructure is a pretty interesting and complex field, particularly with the high levels of risk and costs involved on large infrastructure projects,” he said.
“I’m pretty logical and structured and I think that suits construction and law.”
Bhosten will combine studying for his QUT Bachelor of Laws (Honours) with full-time work at CPB.
He joined the construction company in 2017 and has worked on projects including Brisbane Airport’s new parallel runway and the Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Motorway upgrade.
He’s currently working on the Cross River Rail project as a graduate engineer with the Woolloongabba tunnel team.
For his dad Jack, the decision to pursue postgraduate qualifications in public sector management at QUT came more than a decade after his first degree.
“I wanted to study something that would benefit me in my workplace and enhance my skillset – and QUT has a very good relationship with the QPS,” Jack said.
“The course really focused on leadership, supervision and management skills, the involvement of community, and how the public are valued in terms of decision making. The QPS is very community-woven so it was all very relevant.”
Jack has been a CIB detective for 27 years and has worked at Thursday Island, Cairns, Brisbane and now Mackay, where he is Officer in Charge of Mackay CIB.
He said combining studying with the long hours of police work had been a balancing act.
“It’s a challenge, but it’s a case of ‘how much do you want it?’ – you just do it,” he said.
“I’m proud that my sons have also made that commitment. You can only bring your kids so far but they’ve all gone on to be successful young men.
“We’ve joked about who’s going to graduate first while we’ve all been studying. But it’s not about who gets there first, it’s about getting it done.”
QUT currently has the more than 1000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people interested in studying at QUT – including mid-year enrolment – can contact the Oodgeroo Unit for advice.
QUT Media contacts:
Mechelle McMahon, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rose Trapnell (after hours), email@example.com or 0407 585 901