Amanda Pennington, M.S., Forensic DNA Analyst and graduate of the University of Florida Forensic Science online graduate program.
Why did you develop an interest in Forensic Science? Do you have a favorite aspect of the field?
I developed an interest in Forensic Science due to a personal connection with a cold case. I have seen the working of this case over the years, and have been truly inspired by those who want to bring answers and justice for the victim. I have always been intrigued by the methods that have been used in forensics. I enjoy the critical thinking aspects of forensic science, and have always sought after a career field that allowed me to put careful thought into what I was doing each and every day.
What was your favorite part of the program?
“My favorite part of the program was how I felt so included, even from a distance.”
The courses were so rich in material, and participating in discussions with classmates really gave the program that ‘on campus’ feel. It was interesting being a part of classes with so many individuals from different backgrounds, as I was able to see their way of thinking through different pairs of forensic glasses. The University of Florida provided so many opportunities to connect with other students, even online. Even though I wasn’t on campus, I felt like a Gator, through and through!
How are you using your degree or how are you hoping to use your degree?
I am currently working as a Forensic DNA Analyst, so I use my degree every day! I was working while I obtained my degree, which is something else I loved about the program. I was able to complete the courses while working full time. The knowledge I was gaining along the way was so helpful in my day-to-day activities. I even brought ideas back to my laboratory after learning about them in class. My degree will give me the opportunity to move up in my field, and I hope to be a DNA Technical Leader one day.
Has the program helped you in your current job or day-to-day activities?
“Saying this program helped me in my day-to-day activities would actually be an understatement. It provided me with a wealth of knowledge in my field, which I have been able to apply in my laboratory.”
It has inspired me to suggest new ideas and areas of improvement in our laboratory, as well as new ways of thinking when processing my cases. It helped guide me through my first courtroom testimony, which I completed while being enrolled in the program. It also helped connect me to other scientists who I have had some wonderful discussions with, which will hopefully lead to some future collaborations.
Any advice for future / incoming students?
My advice would be to manage your time well, study hard, take advantage of your course materials and make connections! I believe collaborating with others is a huge part of what makes this field so successful. I would also say, speak up if you are having any type of issues. I experienced devastation to my home during Hurricane Ida, while I was enrolled in courses. All of my instructors were more than willing to accommodate me through that difficult time. And lastly, if you are able to, I would suggest participating in graduation. I have two small children, and I felt it was important for them to see me walk at the ceremony. We had a wonderful experience and hope to make it back to campus for an event in the near future.