Wherever Gene Clarke is, a guitar’s never far out of reach.
The USQ Music student is about to embark on a 12-month exchange in The Netherlands and his trusty musical companion will once again be by his side.
Mr Clarke is in his second year of a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Music) and will continue his study at Inholland University in August 2017, the first non-European Union student to be part of the program.
“I’m very excited to be able to represent my University in Europe,” he said.
“I’m going to study hard and enjoy every moment of life.”
It was during high school that Mr Clarke realised music was going to be his future.
“In Grade 11, my dad played a song called The Green Manalishi by Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, which 40 years earlier he’d listened to and had the same experience,” he said.
“It was the first time that I realised music could be an emotive medium, not just entertainment.
“It really connected with me and I wanted to do be able to do the same for others. I bought a ukulele from a garage sale, upgraded to a guitar a year later and then up-sized to a bass. A few callouses later and here I am.”
It is his second year studying at USQ Toowoomba, but he has been part of the University community much longer through attending McGregor Summer Schools for contemporary bass classes.
“During this time I met the academic staff at USQ who I found to be absolutely gnarly, being skilled and established musicians, fantastic mentors and all-round beautiful people,” he said.
“It was my home town, with a new contemporary music course. So USQ was the only place for me.”
In 2017 Mr Clarke has also been part of the USQ Student Ambassador program and hopes to work in the university sector in the future.
“I want to become an academic. The full cycle anew, inspire a new generation of musicians just as had been done to me,” he said.
“That, and I want to write songs and play them.”
He offers the following advice for those looking at a university education.
“Weigh up your options, get the facts straight, meet the faculty and get involved as much as you can,” he said.
“Wherever your feet may land, just remember that it’s you who’s going to make it.”