“Do the hard thing. Be persistent, and remember ‘natural talent’ doesn’t define success, determination does”. This is the advice Dr Ceridwen Boel gives to young country students unsure about what to do after school. With a degree and PhD in areas that most people can’t even pronounce, Ceridwen is the perfect choice for the inaugural Origin Foundation CEF Alumnus of the Year Award. Ceridwen says she is “very proud to be among peers of such high calibre, and absolutely honoured to have been chosen for the award”.
Since receiving a grant from the Yass CEF local foundation in 2008, Ceridwen has completed a Bachelor of Archaeological Practice (Hons) and Doctor of Philosophy (Evolutionary Biology/Palaeoanthropology), receiving a myriad of commendations, awards and accomplishments along the way. She now works as a researcher for the University of New South Wales and is a member of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage. Her focus is now on research, but she still participates in archaeological digs and last year she was back in Yass for an excavation. She says, “it felt a little strange but very appropriate to be digging in sight of Bowning Mountain, all those years after I’d moved away to study archaeology”.
For the moment her work means living in Sydney, but she knows this doesn’t mean she can’t give back to the community that supported her through her studies, and it certainly doesn’t disconnect her from the country. She hopes her work will have a lasting impact, and is proud to be part of research that emphasises work with regional communities.
She also hopes to one day mentor young women interested in science and research. She says, “reconnecting with CEF was, for me, a powerful reminder of where I’d come from and just how much I have achieved over the last 11 years – and how much I have to give back”.
Ceridwen speaks highly of the support CEF provided and says she was “thrilled beyond belief” when she received her grant from CEF’s Yass foundation. She says, “The CEF grant was incredibly helpful in a practical sense. But it was more than financial aid. Being awarded the CEF grant felt like a high vote of confidence in me and my abilities, and it gave me a sense of achievement and encouragement during one of the hardest transitional periods of my life”.