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Jovan Vazquez will be the first person to tell you that he doesn’t know how he got so lucky. The 34-year-old Boiling Springs resident recently moved to Shanghai, China. At the beginning of the month, he started his new job as assistant expert grower for Haining Oregon Nurseries Technologies (HONT).
His journey to China involved Vazquez working as a firefighter, detention officer, and a police officer before he found his true passion. Once he discovered how much he enjoyed digging into the ground and making a garden, he took advantage of the opportunity.
Vazquez said he learned a sense of patience and humility working on his jobs serving the community, but there was something missing. He enrolled at Spartanburg Community College and was working on general studies when he became interested in the horticulture program.
Vazquez describes gardening like painting in 3-D, transforming a blank landscape into a piece of art. He enrolled in the program after talking with Jason Bagwell, Department Chair of Horticulture Programs at SCC.
“I could learn in the classroom and then go outside and actually do what I just learned,” Vazquez said. “It enforced what I was reading.”
After graduation, he worked full time with floral crops and finished container pots for 1 Floral Group in Gaffney. Jayson Grazel was Vazquez’s boss and became his mentor.
Vazquez loves trees and thought about moving to Oregon or California to work for one of the prominent plant companies, but wasn’t sure he would be able to get a job since he had no connections with the companies. He was re-evaluating his employment opportunities when he read an ad online that mentioned an amazing opportunity to grow trees. He applied and the company emailed him back and conducted several interviews by phone. He finally ended up getting a phone interview with the director of nursery operations and then an interview with general manager and then chairman of the company.
A short time later, he received an email that he had received the job of assistant expert tree grower.
Vazquez worked three part time jobs to pay for school and just to survive. With his parent’s help, he has succeeded. He had never been to China, but wasn’t afraid of moving because he moved a lot as an Army brat and lived in Panama, Italy and here in South Carolina. He will work for five months and then have a month off. After that, his regular schedule will be work for 10 months and off for two months.
HONT’s mission is to establish a standard in China by bringing a modern way of growing US trees in China. Vazquez plans to take advantage of the opportunity by also learning about China and its culture. He will miss his family, but he is excited about his opportunity.
Linda Cobb is a master gardener who lectures, teaches, and does garden design in South Carolina. She can be reached at 864-574-8493 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit her website at www.mygardenersguide.com.