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Science graduate shows it is never too late to change gears 

James Dobson, Bachelor of Science graduate.

Making a career change and starting again from scratch is not easy. Bachelor of Science graduate James Dobson, former pro-cyclist and police officer-turned-scientist, proved that with determination and perseverance anything is possible. 

James was capped at Massey’s graduation ceremony early May in Palmerston North with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Earth Science and Environment Science. Unlike his immediate family who are all tertiary educated, James says he does not regret choosing to travel and work before securing a degree.

Not a fan of school, James left in Year 12 to pursue competitive cycling at a higher level. He competed in many international events including Under 19 Junior World Championships in Aguascalientes, Mexico, where he represented New Zealand. 

After spending time abroad he returned to New Zealand and joined the police force, where he served for three years. In 2015, itchy feet prompted James to travel to Europe and Asia. While he was there, he decided he needed to seriously consider ‘what next’ in his career and that is when he embarked on a Diploma in Science and Technology via distance at Massey University.

Halfway through the diploma, James realised he had found his passion in sciences and decided to pursue it further – thus began his life-changing journey toward a Bachelor of Science. He admits it was pretty daunting starting something new at a later stage in life, but with 28 years of life experience behind him he was ready to take it on. 

“People always said to me it was harder to learn the older you get, but for me it was the opposite. I was serious and motivated to learn which was the polar opposite to my schooling years.”

Becoming a fulltime mature student took a bit of adjustment and so did the budget, laughs James. “Surround yourself with people who encourage and inspire you. I had so many people telling me not to study. I'm glad I didn’t listen to them. My sister was one of my biggest cheerleaders and always checked in to make sure I was on track.”

James secured a job before graduating at Horizons Regional Council as an Environmental Data Assistant. “I’ve now got a specialised set of skills and that opens up a world of opportunities.” 

Reflecting on his journey, James says it was all worth it. He wants to encourage other mature students to give it a go. “If you’ve got that burning desire for change – do it. Don’t just keep doing what you’ve always done. It’s never too late to start something new.”

James with his parents Nick and Marg Dobson at the Manawatū graduation.

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