Meet Chastidy G., Rookie

Chastidy Gilbert

  • Expert Role: Rookie
  • Major: Human Biology
  • Class: Graduate Student
  • Hometown: Flinton, Pennsylvania

Why is this humanitarian work important to you?

Humanitarian work is incredibly important to me. I recognize that the life I’ve lived has been very privileged in the fact that I am able to live as a free citizen in the United States. Given that, I have always wanted to do my part in aiding the lives of others who have not had the same opportunities I’ve had. I believe all people deserve basic human rights and if I have the opportunity to aid in individuals keeping those rights, whether in life or in death, then I have an obligation to. The humanitarian crisis along the border deeply saddens me and I hope by going to Texas I can contribute positively to this situation.

What do you hope to gain from this experience?

Beyond Borders would be an amazing opportunity to gain first-hand experience in applying my field and laboratory knowledge in a human rights context. I look forward to learning more about the sociopolitical environment and extremes of the humanitarian crisis in South Texas. This experience will help me practice the skills I have acquired from my undergraduate university and here at the University of Indianapolis including mapping, archaeology, identifying non-human and fragmentary remains, the basics of bone morphology, human variation, entomology, and forensic photography. Talking with and solidifying connections with members of the Remote Wildlands Search and Recovery Team and The South Texas Human Rights Center will help me in the future when looking to work more with international non-governmental organizations. I also look forward to collaborating with my fellow team members to work towards a common goal. This mission and the many other opportunities I gain here at the University of Indianapolis will aid me in achieving my desired career to become a forensic anthropologist working to identify and provide the deceased with the respect they deserve.

What are some of the biggest challenges you will face while in Texas?

There will be many challenges to face whilst at Texas that I am excited to work on. Most notably, I hope to work on the confidence in my abilities and decision-making skills which will be tested in the field. The emotionally charged environment along the Texas-Mexico border will likewise challenge my ability to control my emotions and stay level-headed. I am originally from a small town in Pennsylvania and moving to Indiana for school has been the furthest I’ve traveled. I look forward to testing my endurance and stamina while experiencing the Texas climate, flora, and fauna of the area for the first time.

What’s one thing people probably don’t know about you until they’ve known you a long time?

One thing that most people don’t know about me is that I was a majorette for over 10 years! I began twirling baton in high school, a late time to start in terms of the sport. I pride myself in that I am completely self-taught by spending hours and hours outside in the driveway watching YouTube tutorials. Through much work, I was able to build advanced skills including fishtails, Fujimi Rolls, and many different variations in 3 and 4 baton juggling. I have placed in several competitions, as part of a team and solo, from high school throughout college. I was selected for the Clarion University majorette team and also was captain of the indoor majorette team. Today I still keep up with the sport, attend games, and choreograph routines!

When did you know you wanted to pursue human biology as a degree, and how did you become interested in forensics?

I have always been interested in anatomy in high school but specifically the skeletal system. I had originally wanted to be a chiropractor but found the study of osteology and its close ties to biological anthropology. I decided to go for a bachelors in anthropology at Clarion University which used a four fields approach. While in my undergrad, I became passionate about recovering individuals using skills in archaeology. I found passion in working to identify and reunite individuals with their families. It was then I realized that my career interests aligned with forensics. After I graduated, I wanted to go for a master’s degree that focused more on biology, statistics, and had a more refined focus in Forensic Anthropology.

What advice would you give other students interested in pursuing a human biology degree at UIndy?

If you are interested in pursuing a human biology degree at UIndy, I would suggest taking classes in a wide range of subjects and acquiring experiences from many different institutions. I would suggest you be open to learning about many different aspects of biology (genetics, ecology, embryology, evolution, anatomy) and mathematics even though one or more of those may not be of interest to you. If you are interested in pursuing a degree here at UIndy, I suggest you ask questions to our faculty, current students, and alumni. I would also suggest reaching out to potentially job shadow an individual in your desired career to determine if that is what you are passionate about and want to dedicate your time to. Lastly, I would take a look at our course catalog to see all of our available courses and requirements of the human biology degree.

What makes UIndy’s human biology program distinctive?

UIndy’s human biology program is special as it offers master’s students direct access to work on current forensic casework. This helps students build their techniques, knowledge, and log of casework experience to use for the future. UIndy provides a holistic approach to forensic anthropology, genetics, and gross anatomy which not every institution offers. At UIndy you not only learn in the classroom but also through practical experience. Here you are able to build your professional skills in presenting and conducting research. Likewise, there are many opportunities to gain ‘hands-on’ field experiences which will prepare you for a continued future in the field of forensic anthropology, human biology, or related field. You are able to build strong personal relationships with colleagues and faculty. Professors help to push you to accomplish things you didn’t think were possible. Students and staff here at the University of Indianapolis are determined to see others succeed and achieve their goals.