NAME: Lisette Vasquez Perez
MAJOR: Forensic Science – Biology
PROGRAM: Scotland – FLP – Comparative Forensic Science US & UK
There aren’t many opportunities that provide hands on experience for forensic science students so a faculty led program that centers forensic science was an opportunity that I couldn’t miss. Additionally, the UK is ahead of the U.S. in terms of the development of forensic science which allows me to learn about current standards and policies that influence how other countries choose to apply forensic science in their countries. I have never been to the UK which added to the intrigue of experiencing a culture that is unfamiliar to me by living and learning in that space.
Reflect on how your study abroad experience and the skills, knowledge, or networking has enhanced or contributed to your life back on campus or home.
During my time there I was able to interact with other forensic science students that I had never met before which allowed me to network with students I could meet with throughout future semesters. Additionally, I was able to talk with the professors, lawyers, and doctors who are involved in forensic science in Scotland to better understand the different career paths that are available after I finish my bachelors degree. Since we had labs in addition to lecture I was able to get a preview into the different forensic techniques implemented when analyzing the various types of evidence taught in upper division courses.
Reflect on the personal, academic, and professional goals that you had set out to achieve on your study abroad experience?
A personal goal that I had was to meet and connect with one new person during the duration of the program, which I was able to accomplish on my first day by stepping out of my comfort zone. Something that aided this was that we were all nervous about being in a new country and having no family to guide us through out time there. An academic goal that I had was to identify if the graduate program offered at the Univerity of Strathclyde was something I wanted to apply to and based on my experience it has become one of the schools I will definitely be applying to when the time comes. A professional goal that I had was to have a basic understanding of the standards for forensic scientist in the field or lab which is something that I need regardless of what career I end up in. I was able to accomplish this by participating in the labs the professors had planned for us.
The biggest impact that the program had on me was making me more comfortable reaching out and connecting with people that I find myself in the same space with. For example I noticed that I initiated conversations with other students in my new courses as well as reaching out to the students that were a part of the same summer program. Before, I was too intimated to talk to students due to not having enough confidence to do so, but after this program I have noticed a difference. Similarly I am more confident in my choice of major and my place within the school as a result of my experience during the program because it made me more aware of the noticeable passion that is displayed by all the professionals I was able to interact with.
Share what courses you chose to take abroad and the strategies you used to ensure your academic success. How has the experience impacted your academics now that you have returned to SJSU?
The course that I took was FS 160 which is called Special Topics in Forensic Science gave me the opportunity to introduce and connect with my major advisor which made me more comfortable in reaching out whenever I have concerns academically. In order to stay successful abroad we were required to take copious notes as well as write a daily reflection in our notebooks which allowed for tracking any progress I made within any of my goals. Similarly the time spent in labs gave me further motivation to continue in my undergraduate research with Dr.Muller.
I didn’t know much of Scottish culture or history but as a result of this course I was able to learn about both in addition to how their judicial system works. From this there was also a lecture that focused on the difference in the practice and application of forensic science globally which opened my eyes to the various standards currently. More importantly the professors discussed how collaboration between universities not only helps students but it also helps further the information available to research groups so that progress is done more effectively.
FUTURE: How has study abroad prepared you for your future?
This program demonstrated how despite the professors working at the same university they all have different backgrounds which reflected how vast forensic science is. Because of this, my want to go to graduate school has solidified however I’m still not certain about what specifically I want to study. Also, I was able to have experience being a student abroad and practicing my navigation and budgeting skills that will be useful if I were to be accepted in a graduate school that is far from home.
TIPS: What advice would you give to a future Global Spartan?
I would advise to not be afraid to ask questions and to connect with people. I would not have had the experience that I did if I didn’t open myself up to everyone I interacted with. Additionally it was comforting to know that my fellow classmates were struggling with the same problems as me during our time abroad. These tips are applicable to being a student anywhere even if it isn’t abroad since you aren’t losing anything from trying.