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Kaitlin Hafer ’14

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Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC)

School of Adult and Graduate Education
Blaney Hall 105

Lawrence A. Quarino, Ph.D.
Director/Professor, Forensic Science
610-437-4471 ext. 3567

Kaitlin Hafer ’14

Trace Evidence Examiner, Virginia Department of Forensic Sciences

My first exposure to Cedar Crest College was at a college fair my sophomore year of high school. Shortly thereafter, I attended a prospective student event and immediately knew that Cedar Crest College was the right fit for me at both the Undergraduate and Graduate levels. Upon meeting the faculty and staff, I could tell that they were truly vested in the success of their students and would do everything they could to help them succeed. I also learned that the number of students permitted in major-specific courses were similar in size to those of my classes in high school, which would allow for more one-on-one time with faculty members.

In addition to my coursework as an undergraduate student, I was able to conduct independent research and then present my findings at annual conferences. This continued in my graduate career through the thesis-based research project required to complete the program. Additionally, the requisite committee for my graduate research project had to include an individual in the forensic science community from outside of Cedar Crest College. Through these experiences, I was able to network with other individuals who are highly respected within the field of Forensic Science, and I remain in contact with those individuals to this day.

I first became interested in trace evidence during my time in the trace evidence and microscopy lecture/laboratory as an undergraduate student. The ability to look at extremely small pieces of evidence and use physical and chemical techniques to determine their identity/end use kept me on my toes, and looking at something different every day. My love for trace grew even more in the advanced trace evidence course taken during the graduate program. The assignments were less guided and required knowledge gained from my previous five years of schooling, as well as additional literature searches, in order to reach my conclusions. On top of my coursework, I was able to hold a teaching assistant position with the undergraduate trace evidence lab that allowed me to share my knowledge of trace, as well as learn about trace from a student’s perspective.

One of the major benefits of the graduate program at Cedar Crest College is that it prepares you for employment in all major areas of forensic science. I had the knowledge of toxicology, fingerprints and patterns, DNA, controlled substances, etc. that I needed to hold gainful employment with any forensic science agency. Knowing that trace evidence was such a small field within forensic science, I knew that I would have to rely on my general knowledge of the field to find a job elsewhere until a trace evidence position opened. Thankfully I did not have to wait too long until a position opened up with The Virginia Department of Forensic Science. I am currently one of two explosives analysts in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of five fire debris analysts. Cedar Crest College, and the faculty within, prepared me for my career as a successful Forensic Scientist and for that, I am forever grateful.