It takes strength of mind and a spark of passion to study in two different fields, even when they complement each other. This perfectly describes UNE student Steve Smith who will soon be studying both a Bachelor of Music and a Computer Science degree at UNE.

“I am currently studying the Bachelor of Music. After this trimester I will have 5 units left of my degree so I’m hoping by this time next year I will have finished it,” Steve said while discussing his current and future studies. “By the time I have finished I will have done 6 units in IT/Computer Science as electives, so I’m hoping to continue for another 2 years of study.”

Steve is a self-described “stay at home Dad”, but his study and circumstances are a little more curious than that. Steve balances his study and family life all while living in different locations around the world.

“I have been stationed in various different countries for my wife’s job since 2007, spending a couple of year’s in-between back in Australia. When I was in Taiwan in 2015 I decided to start my music degree online with UNE, basically because they were the only ones doing it at the time and I knew UNE had been doing online study for a long time. I was regularly gigging at the time so that aspect of playing music with other people that is lacking in online study was already being fulfilled for me. Studying online meant that I could keep plodding along at my own pace regardless of where we were living. We’re now in Beijing, and aside from my degree, I’m focusing on recording music in my little studio here.”

With a strong basis in music, Steve’s second passion is in the field of Computer Science, which goes back to his high school days.

“Before discovering music I was a bit of a computer nerd. I was into computers a few years before the internet and was visiting Bulletin Board Systems and playing Command and Conquer on dial up with my friends. I even did my year 10 work experience at a Computer Store. So, I’m basically just going back to my roots in a way. But, I also think the music business is hard and the tech industry is booming, so career options will be better for me if I do a Computer Science degree as well.”

Steve hopes to take these two areas of study and combine them in order to find a job that fits his interest and circumstances just right. While he still has some time before he has finished his studies, Steve has a few ideas about where he would like to end up.

“For the past decade I’ve been a stay at home Dad so I’d like to get part-time work ideally working from home. It would be great to work for a company that incorporates the two fields of study I am undertaking. So, a company who develops music software or music apps would be great. The technology behind music recording software is continuing to develop with plugins and digital amplifier simulations… so some kind of involvement with that would be amazing.”

So where does the motivation and spark of inspiration to study two degrees while in another country come from? Rather humbly Steve replied that “it’s about making the most of my time and doing something worthwhile”. Steve also notes that his studies are a way to strengthen his work opportunities and assist him in building his career path, which is becoming more important to him as his kids get older.

Like many enthuastic students, the most enjoyable aspects of Steve’s study journey have been related to the pursuit itself. He explains that best parts of his study so far have been “learning new things that I would never have encountered or even thought about before. Also, getting good grades for hard work is always nice”. Although he has taken to university study quite well Steve admits that he had his reservations going in, noting that the most surprising part of his studies were that he was able to do so well. “In all honesty, I didn’t enjoy high school and felt pretty dumb the entire time. So knowing that I can actually do university surprises me a bit. The lecturers are fantastic and are always willing to help and support you in anything.”

With further studies ahead for Steve, he reflects that his take away from the journey thus far is –  “I just feel incredibly lucky to be able to do it.”