Her job is something right out of a CSI: Miami series but Elizabeth Peters (pictured) is more than just a forensics officer with the Fiji Police Force. Born and bred in Suva, Elizabeth never thought she would join the police force let alone the forensics science department.
The eldest of four, Elizabeth hails from Naisogovau in Tailevu. Her father John is a taxi proprietor while her mother Sera was a housewife. Thinking along the lines of being a doctor or lawyer, Elizabeth is a forensic biologist with a passion for the job.
"Like a normal Fiji kid, I was thinking of becoming a lawyer or a doctor. I had a normal upbringing in an average family," she said. "My dad used to work as a mechanic and both my parents worked hard to provide and put us through school.
"I attended primary and secondary school at Nabua before getting a scholarship to study at the University of Flinders in South Australia. "It was a whole new experience for me especially fresh out of high school into university."
She spent three years in Australia completing a bachelor in technology majoring in forensic and analytical chemistry.
Time away from home in another country meant a new life altogether. Sharing a house with four other scholarship recipients in the Land Down Under, Elizabeth learned to be independent. "It was a big difference and at first a bit difficult especially stepping out of Suva and being exposed to the bright lights in Australia.
"Being away from home was a major trial on independence and the four of us learned to cook, clean and shoulder responsibilities. "We had a lot of challenges but in the end we were just experiencing life.
"After I graduated, I came back to Fiji and joined the police force in 2001 as a special constable.
"Some of the things we learned at University were not required when I joined the force so it was more of a hands-on experience."
In 2004, Elizabeth went back to Australia to complete a post graduate diploma in DNA analysis at the same university. She returned to join the forensic science department assisting detectives and investigators with major crime scenes.
Apart from limited resources and finance, Elizabeth said one of the challenges of her profession is working on DNA legislations that set a platform and boundaries. "These are in terms of DNA analysis, uplifting of samples from suspects, accused, volunteers and maintaining a DNA database to name a few.
"The implementation has taken some time to complete owing to the lack of resources but validation should be accomplished in the very near future. "When this happens, it should be exciting as analysis along with a DNA legislation will assist in investigations allowing for prompt results as compared to when samples are sent overseas."
She said anyone could become a forensic biologist if they put their mind and heart to the task. Elizabeth enjoys the work she does and finds the profession very satisfying knowing she has helped detectives take a step further to finding the truth about a crime. Her advice for those thinking of joining the field is to work hard and be committed.
"Be sincere in all that you do and be inspired. Work on your aspirations and have a mentor. "Have some form of responsibility but know that not everybody's cut out for academic or school work.
"If you have a passion to do something then go for it. You can make a career out of anything.
"Regardless of your background, you can make a difference and contribute something positive back to society.
"Remember, anything is possible."
Adpted from Fijitimes Online