Grad's third career in sight

June 10, 2004, vol. 30, no. 4
By Carol Thorbes

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Standing astride his Harley Davidson, sporting a short-sleeved T-shirt that reveals tattoos of dragons on his shoulders, Colin Clarkson does not look like a would-be doctor.

However, with high marks, nine scholarships and published research under his belt, this Simon Fraser University grad is on a promising path to realizing his third career change.

At the age of 28, Clarkson, a former corrections officer and logger, is graduating with a bachelor of science in biology.

Clarkson has yet to crystallize his preferred field of medicine, but after a semester studying in Thailand, he can see himself doing work with Doctors Without Borders.

The Port Moody resident has done interviews at eight medical schools, and already has been accepted by the University of Saskatchewan.

Clarkson is leaving SFU with the biological sciences merit award, valued at $1,600, given to a biology major with the highest academic record after six semesters.

Clarkson maintained an cumulative grade point average of 4.13.

The graduand was the main author of a research paper co-authored with criminologist Gail Anderson and forensic entomology lab coordinator Niki Hobischak.

It concludes that, in some instances, lab data about the growth rate of insects can lead to miscalculations about the time of death in homicides.

The Canadian Society of Forensic Science journal is publishing the research in June.

Clarkson confesses he had no interest in the sciences while growing up as the son of a logger living in a remote area between Quesnel and Prince George.

“I was running heavy equipment and falling trees at the age of 11. Up until Grade 9 I did school by correspondence, and,” he reveals, “I was a troublesome youth.”

Clarkson says running into the right people at key points in his life steered him onto the right road.

“An RCMP officer who was my wrestling coach told me to pull my socks up when I was a kid,” remembers Clarkson.

When a career in corrections failed to hold his interest, Clarkson decided to give science a try at BCIT.

An instructor there turned him onto medicine and the rest is history.

“It's the variety of work, the ongoing challenge of overcoming administrative issues like overcrowding and the chance to make a difference in people's lives that attract me,” explains Clarkson. “I get bored easily.”

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