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SFU archaeology grad carves own path to chase forensic fascination
Fascinated by skeletons at a young age and captivated by the popular forensic drama, Bones, Chantelle Foster knew she wanted to pursue a career in forensics and registered in SFU’s joint major in criminology and anthropology.
A conversation with her criminology TA changed that. After talking about goals and interests, the TA suggested archaeology might be a better fit for Chantelle. “I took a few courses and switched majors without regret,” says Chantelle.
As she progressed through her degree, her interest in human osteology, forensic anthropology, and forensic science courses drove her to seek opportunities to develop hands-on skills within these disciplines. She took advantage of extra-curricular activities, such as participating in research symposiums, but more importantly created opportunities within the spaces that aligned with her interests and skillset.
Chantelle even convinced the RCMP to create a co-op placement for her in Forensic Identification Services. She processed crime-scene exhibits for fingerprints and she also received additional training to attend police calls involving human remains. Because of Chantelle’s success in this role, the RCMP continues to offer this internship to help future students gain similar experience.
After her co-op internship, Chantelle planned to complete her degree by travelling to Portugal for the Summer 2020 Bioarchaeology Field School. However, the field school was postponed due to COVID-19 forcing Chantelle to pivot.
She traded in her Portugal adventure for a period of self-reflection and additional work experience with the RCMP where she continues to do contract work. She is still seeking opportunities to apply her knowledge and augment her skillset in the field as she plans to pursue a master’s degree to enhance her career options.
Now graduating with a BA in Archaeology, an 8-month co-op with the RCMP, multiple research symposium presentations, and even a stint on Archaeology Skytrain advertisements, Chantelle tells her colleagues to “have a little bit of grace” and an open mind as they leave university and enter a new stage of their lives.
“Do not overload yourself or put too much pressure on yourself to get THE job. You don’t want to turn down an opportunity because it doesn’t perfectly fit your career plans, because you never know what could come out of that opportunity,” says Chantelle.