Re.engineer Magazine - Spring 2022

AGAINST THE GRAIN

LET'S CHOP IT UP!

WH A T W A S THE DEFINING MOMENT TH A T INSPIRED YOU TO PURSUE A C A REER IN FORENSIC SCIENCE ? It would be difficult to distill it down to a single moment that inspired me to pursue a career in forensic science because I believe that our significant accomplishments and decisions are generally the sum of many smaller moments. However, I do think there were two significant moments that led me to want to pursue this career. The first moment was a mock crime scene lab in my 11th grade anatomy and physiology class. This was the first time I experienced how all of the natural sciences I had been learning could be applied to a real-life career that had the potential to impact lives in the way that forensic science does. The second moment was the internship I did my senior year because even though I was inspired by forensics in high school, it wasn’t until I got to college and decided what I didn’t like that I was led back to forensics. I spent 3 years majoring in chemistry and then in my senior year I worked as a DNA technician in a DNA laboratory and having that firsthand experience really showed me that forensics was what I really wanted to do for the rest of my life.

HOW DO YOU ENSURE TH A T YOU A RE A UTHENTIC TO YOURSELF A ND YOUR WORK ? Though I definitely agree with being authentic, this is honestly something that I grapple with daily. As a young Black woman trying to enter the STEM field, I felt the pressure to conform to society’s perception of what was considered "intelligent and scientific." Obviously, I couldn’t magically become an older white male, which is the stereotype many people think of when they think of scientists, but I did other things to try to fit in like trying to minimize my personality, be more serious, wear eyeglasses, suits that were too big, and wear my hair in a straight, tight bun. It was so stressful trying to be someone I was not but the longer I have been in STEM, the more I have convinced myself that I owe it to not only myself but also to those coming after me to be my authentic self. We can’t change society’s perception of what a scientist looks like if we continue to assimilate to what is considered the norm. So while I still struggle sometimes as I think about how others may perceive me if I bring my whole self to a situation, I remind myself that the stress and undue burden I would feel from not doing so will always be worse than anyone else’s perception of me. To help me remain authentic, I am intentional about surrounding myself with other powerful women who are also committed to being their authentic selves so that I am reminded everyday to do the same. I also firmly believe that if my

authentic self is not welcome in a space, then I am in the wrong space and I need to find a new one or create one of my own. PRESS play

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