My name is Veronica Rodriguez. I am a senior majoring in Forensic Biology with a minor in Psychology. What made me interested in majoring in Forensic Biology was wanting to understand the fundamentals of forensics. I had the mentally that it is just like the television shows. Unfortunately, it was not what I had expected. It challenged me in so many ways. I am truly thankful for everything that I have learned with this major. It has taught me to work for the truth and to find the facts. I choose Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University due to its amazing reputation. It also has a great Biology and Chemistry Department that has been very supportive in the process. Throughout my courses at Embry-Riddle it has prepared me for one of the best experiences in my educational career.
In the summer of 2020, I was able to obtain an
internship with Yavapai County Medical Examiner’s Office in Prescott Valley,
Arizona. I was hired as an intern and my duties were to assist the medicolegal death
investigators (MDIs) and the forensic pathologist. This office is unique since
the MDIs not only investigate their cases and go to scenes but, they also help perform
autopsies with the forensic pathologist as well. I was super nervous at first
since I had no idea what to expect on my first day at the office.
After being more comfortable at the office, I attended death scenes and interacted with other law enforcement agencies to conduct proper investigations. I learned how to properly document photos of the decedent, property, and evidence with a digital camera. I was really proud of myself that I was able to apply what I have learned in my courses to real life. I also learned the process of how the MDIs produce reports, gather information, and create death certificates. Other responsibilities I had during the internship were to perform autopsies, take toxicology specimens, and take fingerprints of the decedent on my own.
Embry-Riddle has prepared me for this internship with the courses I have taken. Anatomy and Physiology has allowed me to understand the different organs and the functions of the body. It has also taught me how the body is supposed to work and what happens when something goes wrong. Trace Evidence and Investigative Methods and Forensics allowed me to understand how a scene is investigated and how to collect evidence in a way that preserves it; this knowledge was useful when I had to retrieve fingernail clippings from a homicide victim. Procedural Law and Evidence course allowed me to be familiar with the importance of search warrants, chain of custody, and the Arizona statutes that apply for the Medical Examiner’s Office. Being able to apply the knowledge from my courses further reinforced what I have learned and made it clearer during my internship.
This internship has allowed me to find a career
path that I really enjoy. I have had many great memories and experiences, and
it will be something that I will never forget. Once I graduate, I want to get
my certification in the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigation. I
was recently hired at the District 7 Medical Examiner’s Office in Daytona Beach
as a Forensic Investigator/Forensic Technician. If it weren’t for my education
at Embry-Riddle I wouldn’t have been able to obtain an internship that later
landed me a job!
As the sun began to peak through the window of my room at 5:30 am breaking through the night’s previous invasion, I couldn’t help but think to myself “How do people in this state survive during the summer when they are awakened at such an early time?” Before I could even get overly grouchy, a surge of excitement filled my body. This was it! This was the beginning of a new start. This was the start of my adulthood. I was no longer in my childhood home, I was in college.
At first, of course, it’s a little intimidating but I knew my parents had done everything they could and more throughout my childhood to prepare me for this very moment. Going off to college is an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling experience and now as a senior, as I look back to 2012 when I started my very challenging and rewarding journey in obtaining my bachelors degree in Aeronautical Science, I realize that there is honestly no more exciting year as Freshman year.
To this day my best and most profound memories are from when I first started my journey here at Embry-Riddle – seeing new faces, experiencing a new state, experiencing a new culture. It was all incredibly exciting.
Ok, so the first day isn’t only exciting, there are moments where things are a little scary but I’d argue that actually helps the college experience. It challenges you to get out of your comfort zone and really be who you’ve always wanted to be. This is a new start; this is a new chance for you to get it right. High school is over; you never have to worry about working on assignments that you feel are pointless, well only your humanities class work, but you’ll soon realize that those classes are an easy GPA booster (so don’t blow them off).
Explore everything that Prescott has to offer.
Don’t be afraid to jump in your car and just spontaneously drive to every corner of this impeccable state. Arizona has an incredible landscape. You can drive 50 minutes north and feel as if you just entered a Christmas wonderland with all of the pine trees surrounding every corner of the city of Flagstaff. Then you can drive 60 miles south and really experience what it’s like living in a true inferno (Phoenix) which will lead you to jumping in a tube and floating down the famous Salt River. This is just the beginning. You have so much to accomplish here!
Introduce yourself to people you see around campus. We really are a family oriented campus. You will soon realize this once the fall semester comes to a close and you’re back at home thinking life is so boring without your ERAU “crew”. The people you meet at this school will truly become your extended family and will be the people who help you build memories that you will carry with you for the rest of your life.
The friends I have made at this school continue to remind me that I made the best decision in choosing Embry-Riddle as my place of study.