Looking back

University was at once an excercise in hair tearing frustration and bliss. Was it worth it?


Graduation day, 2009.

In 2005, after a good sixteen or seventeen years in the workforce I decided that I’d had enough of (extremely) low paying jobs in the hospitality industry and I wanted to go to university. 

In a way I have C.S.I. to thank for this. The Las Vegas series of course. Gil Grissom was the man. After becoming hooked on this show I thought that forensics might make for an interesting career. 

I have no doubt in my mind that forensic science would be fascinating.  Not quite as action packed as Gil’s exploits perhaps- but still pretty interesting. Anyway, suffice to say, forensics only got me as far as application. The university I was applying for didn’t have much in the way of forensics courses.

So, I went for science. Since I could remember I’d always wanted to be a palaeontologist. I still own the very first dinosaur books I ever had. One was this big picture book with these really cool pictures in it.

The other was this chunky encyclopedia type thing I unofficially inherited from one of my uncles. I remember many hours lost in the prehistoric vistas depicted in those pages, as well as the diagrams of bones and skeletons. 

Anyway. Science. Dad was obsessed with knowledge and learning. While other kids were outside with their dads kicking footies Dad and I were having lengthy discussions about just about everything from archaeology to natural history to just about anything. Even religion. Dad’s mind never stopped moving for one second.

Dad. My first real teacher.

God I miss you dad. 
University was at once huge and scary and a massive leap into a great unknown. I majored in Biology and Earth sciences. Palaeontology is found at the intersect between these two vast areas and I still had dreams of ending up on a hillside somewhere pulling some new creature into the light.

Over time I gravitated towards microbiology and molecular biology as areas of interest. Biology in general. I could never settle on mathematics or chemistry and I didn’t even give physics a glance. The living world was it for me. 

The challenge of university was it’s own reward. I dove into study, and while I didn’t set the world on fire, I did pretty well. My Honours year was hard work. I was working three part time jobs and dealing with an extra complex family life, while at the same time squeezing in an Honours project. 

Was all this worth it? No long term career in the sciences. No career in education. What did I get out of it?

I’ll have to think about it.

Benjamin Roberts, B.Sc., (Honours), 2016

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