For many of us, seven years of full time study combined with full time work and raising five children would seem unachievable but, for Acting Police Sergeant Marcus Sanders, the demands which allowed him to follow one of his earliest desires were not that taxing.
The Operational Intelligence Officer endured the massive workload to chase a long held goal of working in forensics.
“I always had an interest in chemistry and pharmacy and when I left school I did a graduate certificate in chemistry,” he said.
But he didn’t continue with that interest and it’s taken almost three decades to finally get back there.
“I always wanted to get into it but I didn’t; I just went down the detective road and found a 27 year-long career in general Policing and intelligence,” he said.
Last month the 45-year-old finished a three-year degree, a Master of Forensic Science in Toxicology, which qualified him to work as a toxicologist. Prior to this, he studied a Bachelor of BioMedical Science in Pharmacy – a four-year degree.
“Police assisted me financially and with study leave, but I still managed to work full time. Having a wife and five children while studying and working proves you really can do anything if you put your mind to it,” Marcus said.
He is now the only toxicologist in the NT – quite a feat – and his work will soon involve analysis of organ tissue, biological fluids, hair and nails and he will be able to perform post mortem sample analysis to qualify, quantify and determine therapeutic and toxic levels of drugs.
“Now, instead of sending samples down south for toxicology analysis and interpretation, we will be able to do it here in the NT and have access to an expert witness in toxicology without having to bring someone up from interstate,” Marcus said.
He will also be able to provide expert toxicological evidence in court in terms of drug metabolism, how drugs affect the body at different levels and how they are eliminated; ultimately interpreting the data obtained in terms of whether the drug exerted a therapeutic or toxic consequence.
Not only did he take on this challenge he was given a prestigious honour for his educational efforts – being inducted into the Golden Key International Honour Society, which recognises students who achieve in the top 15 per cent at their institution. He’s also had a research paper published in the Osteoarthritis International Journal and he’s not finished yet! Marcus has recently enrolled to undertake a PhD in Toxicology.
How does he manage it? “If you’re really interested in it you can achieve whatever you want to achieve,” Marcus said. “If you find something you love – do it.”
What an inspiration!
Marcus hopes to move to the forensic unit by August.