Abigail Carter graduated from Cardiff School of History and Archaeology in 2004 and with support from the University has now become founding director of Forensic Resources Ltd.
I can still recall the first lecture I had as a student of the BSc Archaeology course, at the School of History and Archaeology. It all seemed so very scary and new to start with but we all spent the lecture laughing and relaxing with the lecturer and we knew by the end of it that we had made the correct degree choice, a very good start to three years work. However, that was just a minor first step on the pathway that has lead me to my career today as executive director of Forensic Resources Ltd.
The archaeology section was an intimate and supportive environment that offered me adventure, education and engagement. One of the things students most enjoyed were the many excavation placements around the world. One year I attended a one month fieldtrip to take part in Viking excavations on the island of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides. The island was like nothing I had ever experienced before being very remote and underdeveloped. It felt like we were completely in the middle of nowhere and you could only travel by boat to reach other places. The only road was single track requiring you to pull over if you met another car, and the local post office was the supermarket, off-licence and pharmacy all rolled into one. Iím not even sure that there was a hospital on the island. In addition to these fieldtrips, the School also boasted a good archaeology society and weekly seminar and pub nights that were attended by students and lecturers like.
The student-lecturer relationship was notable and I donít think you would find such a good relationship at other universities, indeed I consider the staff to be some of the best lecturers in the world. The lecturersí experience was invaluable and they were always readily available to help with any difficulties I encountered with essays, assignments or any kind of personal problems. The archaeology section was like a small community and I couldnít imagine this kind of interaction at any other university.
The good thing about Cardiff University is that all the various Schools and departments are within close proximity and a trip into the city centre is only a short walk away. Cardiff itself is a smaller intimate city which has everything you need and itís right on the M4 gateway. You wouldnít want it to be any bigger.
Forensic Resources Ltd
Although I moved to Bournemouth to complete a masters in forensic archaeology, my relationship with the University didnít end there and I soon returned to Cardiff after completing my course. I returned to the School of History and Archaeology, providing assistance to Dr Jacqui Mullville, a Bioarchaeology lecturer there. I then noticed a gap in the market to offer a one-stop-shop style network for defence solicitors looking for independent expert forensic witnesses and I created Forensic Resources Ltd to meet this need. The company was developed and launched with the support of Cardiff Universityís Research and Commercial Division and I secured substantial funding from the Knowledge Exploitation Fund Entrepreneurship Scholarship. The relationship I had developed with the University was essential in order to secure the funding. Along with the funding, the support I received from Catherine Bushell and Antonio Coppen, who work at the Universityís Student Enterprise team, was invaluable.
My company has gone from strength to strength and no doubt it will expand even further. I continue to maintain links with the archaeology section of the School, contributing to the forensic archaeology modules and working alongside Dr Mulville to give students the opportunity to work on live cases and experience the professional working environment at Forensic Resources Ltd. As a result of this interaction the School has awarded me an honorary tutorship at Cardiff, and it is an honour to be able to give something back to the University.
As for the future of the University, I would like to see it advance even further than it has on the list of elite universities. Cardiff University has so much to offer and I wish students understood how much the University can help them - the support doesnít end at graduation.
I would not be in the position I am today without the help and support of Cardiff University. If the University can go for another 125 years, continuing to offer similar opportunities and support to other people, then who knows how many more small companies will be set up as a result.
Information about Abigailís company, Forensic Resources can be found at www.forensicresources.co.uk