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Aviation helps Nicole spread her wings

girl in cockpit of a flight simulator
Nicole Spencer-Scarr takes control of a Boeing 737-800 simulator at the University of Southern Queensland Two-Day Aviation Experience camp in 2018 and five years later at the Brisbane Airport working for Swissport International AG.

When Nicole Spencer-Scarr first walked into the University of Southern Queensland’s Springfield campus, she was an enthusiastic Year 12 student at St Peters Lutheran College Springfield with an unwavering desire for an aviation career.

Four years later, her determination landed her a job in the industry, fulfilling a dream she's had for as long as she can remember.

Ms Spencer-Scarr is an Airline Service Agent for Swissport International AG – an airport ground and cargo handling service at the Brisbane Airport.

She’s one of hundreds of University of Southern Queensland students who will mark the end of their studies at the 2023 Spring Graduation Ceremonies at the Ipswich Civic Centre tomorrow (October 17).

Ms Spencer-Scarr, who will graduate with a Bachelor of Aviation, majoring in Aviation Management, said the ceremony would mark the end of a significant chapter in her life.

“I was very relieved and excited to complete the degree as it was a rocky start when the Covid pandemic hit in 2020,” she said.

“What I enjoyed most about the whole experience was the University of Southern Queensland’s flexibility.

“I did most of my degree online, which was a huge help; it meant I could work a lot and save money for my flight training.

“I also made some good friends who have stuck by me throughout the last few years.

“They were a major contributing factor to ensuring I finished my degree as we were all in it together.”

Ms Spencer-Scarr’s journey at the University of Southern Queensland started well before her first class.

During her final year of high school, the South African-born aviation enthusiast attended the University’s Careers Day, where she got to take the controls of a Boeing 737-800 simulator on campus.

Later that year, she returned for the Two-Day Aviation Experience camp – an experience that left a lasting impression.

“That camp was the final thing that convinced me that the University of Southern Queensland was the university for me,” she said.

“What stood out to me was the four student ambassadors that helped run the workshops.

“They were all so amazing and passionate about what they were doing – it truly inspired me to want to study there and become an ambassador myself.”

Inspired by her father Chris and grandfather Rob, whose passion for flying motivates her to this day, Ms Spencer-Scarr did her first solo flight in early-2018 at just 16 years of age and obtained her recreational pilot licence a few months later.

Currently, she’s working towards a Commercial Pilot’s Licence, hoping to take her career to new heights. Until then, Ms Spencer-Scarr is content keeping her feet firmly on the ground.

“I’m thoroughly enjoying what I am doing right now at Swissport and haven’t considered anything else,” she said.

“When I started in March 2022, my primary role was a check-in agent, but in the past 18 months, I have gained other customer service skills and taken on some new roles, including gate lead, turnaround coordinator, movement coordinator and flight controller.

“I have given some thought to flying as a job, and while it’s taking a bit longer than I thought to build my hours and get my qualifications, I am in no rush.

“I’m thrilled to have a job in the aviation industry and flying on the side for fun.”

Aspiring pilots and aviation professionals can study for a Bachelor of Aviation at the University of Southern Queensland, majoring in Flight Operations or Aviation Management.

Postgraduate aviation courses are also available for industry leaders specialising in Aviation Management or Aviation Human Factors.

Learn more.