"Start looking for internships or developing relationships with people involved in your field as soon as possible, especially if you are pursuing a forensic science career. This field is growing rapidly and connections are so important."
Hear Naomi give advice on how to pursue forensic science as an AOC student!
Images documenting evidence from a mock crime scene; Top: Bloodstain patterns, Bottom: Bullet defects
My career roadmap has been somewhat defined.
My grandfather passed away in 2008 from health-related problems, and since then I knew I wanted to be someone who would not only save lives, but also comfort the family members of those harmed. The obvious choice for that was, of course, being a doctor.
I started watching shows like The Flash, Sherlock, and Bones, and realized that I didn’t want to be a doctor--I was going to be a forensic scientist: someone who aids law enforcement with brains, not brawn, and who can make major steps toward criminal justice reform.
In eighth grade, I interviewed a firearms analyst from the LASD for a presentation, and found my facet of forensic science. I am not too fond of working with cadavers and I was raised with a knowledge of gun safety, so this was perfect.
During my years at AOC, I took a couple of criminal justice CCR classes, as well as Administration of Justice 101 and Criminology at COC. These classes added to my knowledge of law enforcement and its benefits and errors.
When the application process for college began, I only applied for schools that offered a forensic science degree. Grand Canyon University’s forensic science major is crafted specifically to teach every aspect within forensics so the students are exposed to everything, since the field is very interconnected.
At GCU, I have been blessed to have professors who truly care about my success and who are striving to foster my love for my major. My Forensic Photography professor is a consultant for the Phoenix PD as a crime scene technician, and another professor was a DNA analyst.
I am a member of the Forensic Science Society on campus, where I have further practice with forensic science techniques.
Here are my extracurriculars relevant to this pathway
DURING MY HIGH SCHOOL CAREER
I took the Exploring Law and Government Careers and Criminal Justice CCR classes, as well as Administration of Justice 101, Criminology and Fundamentals of Public Speaking (essential for testifying in court) at COC.
Being a Student Tutor at AOC taught me how to work with students from all classes, and how to articulate my thoughts to help others with their assignments.
Through my classes and family relations, I talked to more people involved in forensic science and law enforcement, getting to have a deeper understanding of the system.
I continued to watch many crime shows and movies, partly because it demonstrates how society perceives law enforcement, mainly because I just like watching TV and movies.
DURING MY COLLEGE CAREER
At GCU, I am involved in the Forensic Science Society, which connects me to others pursuing my major and allows me to work with various instruments used in the field.
Additionally, I am a member of the Lopes Justice Society, a club that teaches about the different aspects within law enforcement and offers opportunities to get involved with them.
Being a part of GCU’s Honors College allowed me easy access to interview another firearms analyst who works for the Phoenix PD. I also toured Phoenix’s crime lab, which is one of the most advanced in the nation.
I also have a job at my school’s Box Office, and I have learned a lot about working with others and community relations through that.
What I'm currently doing/hope to do
I hope to become a firearms analyst for the FBI. Law enforcement is currently under fire, and part of that is because of wrongful convictions. Although these are rare today, they still impact many people and I hope that by applying proper forensic techniques, I will never have to face that guilt and I would only convict those who deserve it. However, right now, I am applying to internships with law enforcement, even one for the FBI, and working on enhancing my knowledge of and involvement in the field. My Forensic Photography class was very hands-on and fun, and I look forward to my Crime Scene Processing and Body Fluid & DNA Analysis courses.
How to maximize my time in high school?
Advice #1: Start looking for internships or developing relationships with people involved in your field as soon as possible, especially if you are pursuing a forensic science career. This field is growing rapidly and connections are so important.
Advice #2: Know that time goes by really, really fast. Live in a way that if your life were a book, you would want to read it (I am especially working on this one).
Advice #3: Do not dwell on rejection or disappointment too long--if you are meant to be where you are right now and you work hard, you will succeed. That sounds so cliché but it is helpful.
Advice #4: With this field, sometimes the way to succeed is to start at a low-level position, build your rapport with the people around you, then work your way up. (I have not been able to try this out yet, but someone I interviewed says this is essential for when you do enter the field).
Advice #5: Learn how to communicate with people in both a presentation style and a personal style. For many forensic scientists, testifying in court is a common occurrence (toxicologists do so at least once a week), and written and verbal communication skills are necessary to succeed.