Lenara’s Story | Studying Forensics at Flinders University

After completing Year 12 at Woodcroft College in 2010, I decided I needed a break from study so I could come back to Adelaide and start university with a clear head, focused and ready to get stuck in. Working 4 jobs to save enough money for my 6 month holiday in North America was tough, but it made me appreciate my time overseas even more.

Before I left Adelaide I received my SATAC offer in the mail. Overwhelmed with joy, I had been successful in gaining entry to my first preference, the Bachelor of Science (Forensic and Analytical Science) at Flinders University after my year off.

Eager to start my degree, I found studying at Flinders University to be an amazing experience, better than I ever could have imagined. The campus is beautiful, spacious and easy to access. My lecturers and professors were always more than happy to stay back and answer questions or lend a helping hand when it came to extra resources or difficult concepts. Guest lecturers who were currently employed at Forensic Science SA gave students an insight into the professional working careers that we were training for. The laboratory sessions were always something I looked forward to and when I told my friends in other courses that we got to play with the trajectory of (fake) blood, or stab blocks of agar with different types of weapons, they were jealous of all the fun we got to have in our labs.

Whilst studying, I was exposed to a variety of new experiences and opportunities by being encouraged to join forensic science societies like The Australian and New Zealand Forensic Science Society and the International Society of Forensic Genetics. Only after attending the ANFSS Symposium in Adelaide in 2014 did I decide to continue my studies and apply for an honours degree. I wanted to branch out into a new field of forensic science and study wildlife forensic science, introduced to me by our topic co-ordinator Professor Adrian Linacre. This saw me travel to Cambodia to take saliva samples from nearly 200 rescued Moon bears and Sun bears, in conjunction with Free the Bears Fund and their research scientists.

I enjoyed my year conducting self-led research and I decided to apply to study a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). I was accepted into the higher degree, but due to the competitive nature of PhD scholarships, I missed out. So instead I spent six months working at Forensic Science SA doing small research projects with their leading scientist Dr. Julianne Henry. After six months I came back to my PhD with some money in the bank and ready to knuckle down. During my PhD, I was asked to come back to Forensic Science SA to do some further work and have recently gained full time employment in my chosen field of Forensic DNA Analysis.

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