Forensic Science: Undergraduate Finds Success in Graduate Program
Being accepted into a program available to graduate students currently enrolled in a specific program at a specific university is something nearly impossible for most outsiders.
With perseverance and a thorough interview, however, Angelic Wray, a senior forensic science major, became the first student outside of Arcadia University’s Forensic Science graduate program to become a Research Assistant and Mentor for the G. John DiGregorio Summer Mentoring Program at the Forensic Mentors Institute (FMI).
“I wanted to expose myself to research opportunities in my field, determine what field of forensics was best for me and challenge myself to a side of chemistry I was uncomfortable with,” Wray said.
Like many who have applied for and received internship opportunities, Wray’s experience consisted of tremendous commitment. Over a period of several months, Wray corresponded with the program director as well as the entire FMI staff through a series of emails where she described her interest in the program and her experience in forensics, biology and chemistry at Waynesburg.
From June 21 to Aug. 24, 2013, Wray put forth 367 hours of research and mentorship where she assisted students with hands-on learning such as data analysis, lab techniques, presentations and public speaking practice.
Her focused research project was to “validate the basic liquid-liquid extraction (LLE) developed in house using the Gas Chromatograph-Mass Spectrometer (GC-MS) for the screening of common drugs in urine.”
“Samples were analyzed using the SCAN-MT and SCAN-MT DER method on the GC-MS for the detection of common drugs,” Wray said.
The G. John DiGregorio Summer Mentoring Program is an eight-week program held annually during the summer as an opportunity for high school students to become prepared for college and the forensic science field through practical learning and mentorship.
“I expected the internship to be showing students how to do different science techniques and apply it to a research project,” Wray said. “However, it was much more than what I expected. I needed to not only show them how to conduct authentic research, but use their findings as a starting point for the experiment.”
Trying to get high school students to understand certain science terminology, concepts and procedures was Wray’s biggest challenge, but watching them grow was something well worth the effort.
“Many [students] started out shy and had very little public speaking skills, but developed great confidence by the end of the program,” Wray said. “Just knowing I was able to bring that growth out of the students brought me great joy. Every day was a combination of great work, disaster and fun.”
As a student at Waynesburg, Wray is involved in several activities. She is a member of Waynesburg’s American Chemical Society (ACS), EcoStewards Club, Forensic Science Club, Future Alumni Society, Gospel Choir, Leadership Scholarship and is a Waynesburg University Student Ambassador.
Wray credits her confidence and precise problem solving skills, among other things, during her internship this summer to her involvement in activities, clubs and courses at Waynesburg.
Not only was an impact made on Wray through her experience, an impact was also made on the students she challenged. Left in the form of a short “mentor appreciation” note, student mentees claimed Wray inspired them to become better scientists, making it one of the most enjoyable summers they have ever experienced.