Jennifer Lai Hipp became a forensic sciences buff in high school, but she never saw it as a career path.
That is, until the college program she was in – studying American Sign Language – was put on hold.
Hipp, who graduated from Chaminade in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in forensic science, is now pursuing a master’s degree in human biology at the University of Indianapolis and has her sights set on a future in forensic anthropology. She said she’s even considering getting a doctoral degree.
“I took it as a sign I should follow my true passion and knew that Chaminade had one of the best forensic science programs in the country,” she said. “I decided to apply and luckily I got in.”
Hipp said she’s thankful for the strong educational foundation she built at Chaminade, where she thrived with small class sizes and engaging learning opportunities.
“The lab courses at Chaminade are built to give us hands-on experience that we can take into the real world,” she said. “I learned crime scene investigation techniques, including crime scene mapping and photography, latent fingerprint processing, and bloodstain pattern analysis.”
Along the way, she was able to build strong relationships with her professors and her peers.
One of those mentors was Dr. David Carter, director of the Forensic Sciences program at Chaminade.
Hipp said Carter was “integral” to her success at Chaminade — and beyond.
“He helped me with everything from registering for classes and planning out my academic year to giving me advice about careers and applying for graduate school,” she said.
“I was nervous about attending college, but Dr. Carter was always positive and supporting. He was also great to talk to when I needed a break from studying.”
Hipp said that Chaminade’s Dr. Robert Mann also helped her immensely in the program, including by serving as a “source of inspiration” and advice about jobs in the field.
She said Mann even helped her secure internship opportunities and encouraged her to pursue her dream of becoming a forensic anthropologist.
“The faculty of the Forensic Sciences program at Chaminade integrated their work experience in the field into the classroom, which I believe was an important part of my education. They were able to relate the material in the textbooks to the real world,” Hipp said.
“They also worked closely with all the forensic sciences students to create a resume, critique scientific journal articles, and practice giving professional presentations.”
All that preparation proved key to Hipp’s next steps: Seeking a graduate degree in pursuit of a career.
“Being a non-traditional student, I did not have the typical college experience,” Hipp said.
“But I found my professors very easy to relate to and had a wealth of knowledge about both college and the working world.”