Gareth Parry spent 13 years in the Armed Forces. Working as a Crime Scene Investigator in the Military Police, the 32-year-old from Abergavenny was involved on the front line in Iraq and Northern Ireland.
In 2013, he returned to the UK and made the decision that he no longer enjoyed his career and needed a new path to challenge him. He started to look into other avenues and what to do next.
“I had always regretted not going onto University when I was younger and so I looked into the potential for me to do a degree. As a qualified Crime Scene Investigator I figured that choosing a degree in an area that I am both interested in and have a history was a wise choice.
Knowing that my BSc (Hons) Forensic Science would be fully funded through ELCAS and the FE/HE scheme made the decision to go to University a lot easier.
Returning to education after a long time was a worry, and I admit I was concerned about how I would keep up with workload. My fears turned out to be unfounded; my time in the forces had certainly taught me how to manage my time and abilities, as well as knowing where and when it was appropriate to seek help, something I have noticed other students are less inclined to do.
I can definitely say that coming to University was a good decision. I'm very happy here and love the course. The practical sessions are great, and I enjoy studying science in such depth. As someone who has been out of education for a while, it’s extremely satisfying when you do the work and get good marks.
After I graduate, I hope to secure a job in the Forensics world. I'm hoping that the combination of a degree and my previous investigations and management experience will give me the edge over other recently qualified students.
What’s more, the skills I developed in the Forces, such as impeccable time management, dedication and proven career track record should put me in good stead to apply for high-level positions.
My advice to other ex-forces personnel is to do your research. There are a number of factors to take into account - what course you want to do as well, how you plan to finance it and your location.
Consider accreditations. I chose to study my course here as it is accredited by the Forensic Science Society.
Finally, think about timings. I was discharged in January and my course did not begin until September, leaving a long time to be filled. With a little hindsight I would have tried to stay in until later in the year."