I was sitting in my undergraduate American Literature class. It was the first day of class and I let out an internal groan when the teacher declared that we were going to “get to know each other a bit.” I didn’t want to get to know my classmates. I was here to read about great American authors, write my papers, and get my A. What I wanted didn’t matter and I was soon paired up with a redheaded classmate whose name I never really learned. We were supposed to interview each other and then introduce the other person to the class. When it was my turn to awkwardly answer questions, she asked what I did for fun. When I said I did forensics her eyes lit up and she started exclaiming about how exciting that was and how she thought it was so cool growing up. I was taken it back. I had never seen such an enthusiastic response to my hobby before. Then I realized, she was thinking of scientific forensics not speech and debate. She got a lot less excited when I explained the mix up.

My classmates response to forensics is not unusual. Most people I meet don’t have a context for what the event is and if you explain it to them the concept of young people spending weekends in suits is kind of strange. But forensics is definitely one of the most underrated activities you can participate in. If you do any kind of research you will see numerous benefits from better critical thinking to strong leadership skills. I know that forensics has done a lot for me. I competed in it for 10 years from when I was 13 and my mom signed me up for debate club because “hey, you like to argue, right?” to my senior year of college where I was state champion in Communication Analysis. Forensics gave me the power to examine the world from all angles, the passion to advocate for others, and the confidence to speak up for what matters to me.

More than that, forensics gave me a home. Some of my first good friends were from forensics and I met my husband Bryan through my high school debate club. Forensics is an amazing community community and it hurts me when I see in undervalued. I see families in high school who don’t take it seriously and don’t put in the time and effort the events need. I see college programs get cut because the administration doesn’t understand the intrinsic value of the event.

I know that, in some way or another, forensics will always be a part of my life. Whether that is volunteering to coach for my old teams or through the company (Olympus Forensics) that Bryan, my brother Christopher, and I have started, I always want to do something to help the forensics community.

So no, I don’t examine dead bodies. But examining the world in search of truth, that’s pretty cool too.