Sierra Rose Mosher
How would you describe your college experience?
When I began my college career I had high hopes of becoming a forensic scientist, just as you see on the CSI TV shows but I was under the impression of the “CSI Effect” where my vision was skewed by the portrayal of the shows and I was not prepared for reality. I had high ACT scores in my science and math portions, which opened the door for me to simultaneously take higher level of biology and chemistry my freshman year here at MTSU. The small town I grew up in was not heavily focused in STEM and that led to some challenges for me in these areas my first year of college. After making my first ever and only “C” grade in both biology and chemistry I reevaluated my future path because I felt that my strength was not in these types of sciences.
Nonetheless, I found my loophole! I switched my major to criminal justice where I was able to expand my horizons and ultimately study forensic science through the law enforcement investigation side and develop a newfound passion for forensic anthropology. Through this newly evolved passion I was able to join an elite 10 person student team led by Board Certified Forensic Anthropologist Dr. Hugh Berryman. The team’s purpose was to assist law enforcement agencies in the recovery and documentation of skeletal remains from crime scenes.
Being a part of the Forensic Anthropology Search and Recovery (FASR) team was one of my most amazing experiences of my college career; right alongside my fondest memories with being a member of the WISTEM Center. Luckily for myself my involvement with WISTEM and the Forensic Institute for Research and Education (F.I.R.E.) overlapped with one another. During my years involved in both WISTEM and F.I.R.E led me to meet remarkable people in the STEM world.
After battling tough courses and working 3 jobs while simultaneously taking over 15 credit hours each semester, I accomplished my 4 year goal to complete my bachelors of science directly after high school. I knew that through my amazing experience of college, I would always have a phenomenal support team. Walking across the stage in Murphy Center as Cum Laude with members of WISTEM, FASR, F.I.R.E, and my family cheering me on gave me the confidence I needed for my future.
When did you know that you wanted to major in a STEM discipline?
As long as I can remember I had always wanted to help people. At a young age my Nana Polly had her leg amputated, so I became a helpful nurse to her. For a while I had thought of becoming a nurse, but it wasn’t meant for me. Our activities of course were limited so we would watch CSI for most of our evenings together. I loved watching the crime shows with her and she said that she believed I could do it and excel at it. It was at this moment in my life when I knew I wanted to uncover the truth behind brutal crimes. Their skeletons and crime scenes still told stories and I knew I needed to be the one to listen. I needed to give back the voice that was taken away from them.
What is the most rewarding aspect that you do in your job as a STEM professional?
Currently, I am opening more doors to my future as a professional. I am in the process of making a decision to further my education to obtain my masters, attend law school in Florida, venture into death scene investigation training, or wait for the next enrollment of the police academy to begin my career as a homicide investigator. With all the options laid out ahead of me I can think of endless rewards that await me. I knew this path would be a very worthwhile career and I would constantly be able to utilize advancing techniques and technologies. The best thing about discovering evidence and recreating crime scenes is that it takes many aspects of STEM to accomplish it. If throughout my future career I can help prove the validity of crimes, all the years of studying and working would become my greatest reward.
What would you tell a middle or high school girl about careers in STEM?
First off I would say, “Don’t let the word STEM scare you!” Many who see the word “STEM” automatically assume you’re a biochemist astronaut (joking) and that not everyone is meant to achieve in STEM, but that’s so false. Unfortunately, I was not aware of the vast career paths available to those intrigued in STEM occupations during high school. The opportunities of STEM jobs are limitless. Whether you’re creating new robotics, designing a new website, measuring blood spatter velocity, determining stature from a femur, or even developing new makeup products STEM can be everywhere.
What should middle and high school girls be doing to prepare themselves for college
and a STEM career?
Dedication and determination are two words I would tell young girls to keep in their heart as they prepare for college. College is not easy and STEM careers take many hours of dedicating what could be fun time to study time. They have to be determined to excel in their future. Take the chance on taking a dual enrollment course during high school to try the entry level course of something that may interest them. This path allows them the opportunity to begin the foundation for success for college.
What advice do you have for teachers and counselors who are assisting students prepare
for a STEM major and career?
I would advise teachers and counselors to serve as positive role models for students. Show that they believe in their students’ possibility of success. Suggest that they take an extra math or science class instead of something that is not applicable to future uses. Also, give the student the chance to enroll in dual enrollment college courses in math, science, and the entry level courses for paths that could interest them in STEM. By taking just one science course during high school could lessen the academic load they will carry while they are in college.
What career advice would you give to girls if you only have two minutes?
They must find something they are truly passionate about and research all the possibilities that could be associated with it. There’s a saying, “If you love your job, then you’ll never work a day in life.” If you are one of the lucky ones to find your passion, pursue it at all costs.
You are the captain of your ship as you sail through life. Embrace the weather and use it to your advantage always.
21st MTSU EYH Conference 2017
Registration is now open!
October 28, 2017
Rachel Marlin represents MTSU at the SENCER Summer Institute.
Temi Thomas and Rachel Marlin will present EYH research at the ACS Fall 2017 National Meeting.