What did you study at undergraduate level and when did you graduate? What are you studying now? Are you studying and working at the same time?
I am currently a post-graduate student undertaking an honours research project at Deakin University. I completed a double degree of forensic science (majoring in forensic biology) and criminology. I finished these degrees late last year and have my graduation ceremony next month. I am not studying and working at the same time, I am focusing purely on my research project.
What have been the most important stages of your life?
After I finished year 12 in 2012, I decided to take a gap year and volunteered as a teacher in a rural island in Vanuatu. I was on an isolated island for 6 months surrounded by non-English speakers. I believe this life experienced really helped set the foundation for who I am as a person and because of this, I was able to undertake my education and jobs with a particular attitude. Another important stage in my life was moving to Melbourne when I was 19 (I'm from Ballarat), this really helped compound my independence and resourcefulness.
How did you get to your current (or most recent) job position and how long have you been working there?
My most current job position was helping manage a cafe in Ballarat that my parents recently bought last year in July. However, I quit when I recently moved to Geelong to focus on my research full time.
What made you decide to progress with further study?
The people who surround me. My professor talked to me about further study and really wanted to take me on and be my supervisor. She is very influential and well known in the forensic field so I did feel very moved by the fact that she wanted to be my supervisor. My parents also really wanted me to strive to do my best. I was also a little scared to face the realities of having to try and get full-time work once my studies were complete.
How did you choose your particular further study course (compared to others)? / Were you weighing up any alternative degrees or career pathways before choosing this qualification?
I had to choose between throwing myself into trying to get a job in my field (forensics or criminology) or try and get into the honours program at Deakin. I chose the honours program because so many people wanted me to do it and it seemed easier than having to try and get a job!
What was the process to get accepted into your course? What were the prerequisites?
For my double degrees, I think the minimum ATAR was 65 and the prerequisite was an average score in English, so it wasn't too hard. I had previously done a year of forensics and psychology at Swinburne university before I decided forensics was the right path for me. It was easy to transfer after providing an academic transcript.
What does your study involve? Can you describe a typical day? (if it’s difficult to describe a typical day, tell us about the last thing you worked on?)
Today I woke up and went to a field in the back of a Deakin known as the decomposition field. I have 12 subjects in the field that I am studying. I have poured different chemicals on the subjects to see how this impacts their rate of decomposition. I also do experiments in the lab where I see how these chemicals effect the growth and development rate of a species of insect. I am also going to be subjecting them to analysis to see if it is possible to detect these chemicals in the larvae.
Will this course be beneficial in your career? Where could you or others in your position go from here? Please explain your answer.
I hope so! This gives me a lot of hands-on experience with working in the field as well as the lab independently. It makes me realize the importance of time management and self-imposed deadlines. This course has given me a solid foundation in all the sciences and in my Honours, I am starting to hone in on one area of expertise, I believe this will give me an advantage over others in the forensic field when starting my career.
What do you love the most about your course?
I love that my criminology degree had the ability to be pretty much completely online. As I was completing these degrees from over an hour away from the uni, this made it so much easier for me! The university has a wide variety of systems in place to help students too, may it be for mental health or accommodation. I love the hands-on components of my forensic degree, I think it's a great way to get real-world experience.
What are the limitations of your course?
Although there are many services available to students, they are hard to find and navigate. I also thought they course outline was extremely confusing (how many of which units to complete to get X amount of credit points, which units counted towards electives and were valid to use towards getting your degree, etc.). Some of the course unit material was also extremely dense, they definitely tried to cram too much information into a single trimester which made it difficult to keep up and pass exams.
Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current undergraduate student? They don’t necessarily have to be related to your studies, or even to one’s professional life.