Ceridwen Boel has worked hard to get where she is, and proudly proclaims her love of learning is the reason she continues to take on more work and study opportunities.
“I get a huge thrill out of learning new things, and get really excited by some of the amazing things that science can do,” she says.
“Every now and then I start feeling discouraged and overwhelmed, and then I get lost in an amazing concept or think of an application for some cool technique I’ve been learning about, and the excitement picks me up out of my slump and spurs me on.
“I guess I’m just a massive nerd! It’s a label that was used to attack and shame me when I was younger, but one that I’ve really come to embrace as I’ve moved on and surrounded myself with positive, like-minded people.”
After growing up on a small hobby farm in Yass, surrounded by her large family, some sheep and chickens and “an amazing veggie patch”, Ceridwen knew she needed to jump head-on into her future, no matter how it turned out.
She is now a field archeologist, casual academic and assistant researcher looking to pursue postdoctoral research opportunities and work her way toward a tenure-track research role.
Ceridwen says she has been “bold and lucky”, and taken opportunities that required guts, determination and a lot of courage.
She said the Yass District Education Foundation, a member of the Country Education Foundation of Australia (CEF), was one of her first big encouragers when she was exploring leaving her home town and looking to study away.
“More than the financial support that it offered, receiving a CEF scholarship feels like a huge vote of confidence in you and your abilities,” Ceridwen shares.
“It says ‘we believe in you’ – and that really counts at one of the most daunting times in a young life.”
She says the CEF community scholarship gave her the freedom to focus and immerse herself in university life.
“I lived on campus for my first year of university. The CEF grant money was largely used to get me set up there and ahead on my rent. It also helped with textbooks and such,” she says.
“Being a little ahead on my rent and able to afford textbooks without going into debt took a huge amount of pressure off. I was able to really immerse myself in uni life and my classes without spending a ridiculous amount of time working.”
“Don’t get me wrong, I still worked – McDonald’s, twice a week! But I was mostly able to avoid working during the week when I was supposed to be attending classes, so I wasn’t skipping lectures and falling further and further behind like so many other students in my cohort.”
When asked for advice she would give to country students thinking of applying for help from CEF or other organisations, Ceridwen is adamant: “Be brave. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and don’t be too proud to ask for help. People will astound you if you give them the chance”.