DTC students win Forensic science competition

Seth Hubbard looks at a slide through a microscope as Adrienne Stampley looks on at the Bioscience department at Dothan Technology Center on Tuesday.

Two recent graduates of Dothan Technology Center won fourth place as part of a team effort in an international forensics competition.

Seth Hubbard and Adrienne Stampley, of Dothan City Schools, competed against more than 150 other teams from the U.S., its territories, and a couple other countries.

“I can’t say how proud I am of them – just super proud of them mainly because they took what we learned in class, applied it, and also had to learn a lot more on their own,” DTC Biomedical Sciences instructor Jennifer Walworth said. “I just give them the credit for that because there was a lot of information that they were required to learn that we did not cover in class, but they had the motivation to go and learn it on their own outside of class.”

The journey to success didn’t come easy.

Twenty-four DTC students took a test in December to succeed to the state event. Sixteen students qualified.

Students had to pick one among 11 skill events that included topical biomedical science debates and public speaking. Hubbard and Stampley picked a team-based event – forensic science.

“We’ve been friends for a while so we wanted to do a team event because we work well together,” Hubbard said, adding that the forensics event struck their interest because they wanted to learn more about forensic medicine.

“It was probably one of the more interesting events out of all of them,” Stampley said. “It was just one that I was just like, ‘this is so cool.’ We get to go to a crime scene and figure out what happened… I mean, I read about it all the time in crime books and see it on TV all the time – might as well do it myself.”

After scoring in the top three at the state-level, they were invited to the multi-level international competition in Orlando.

“Going to the national level, all of these kids are the top of the top and you have some serious competition now,” Hubbard said.

In the first round of the international level, they had to take a test with questions about criminological science like blood-typing, hair analysis, DNA, and important historical figures in science who created or contributed to many of the methodologies in practice today.

“DNA is a big part of this class, and a big chunk of that test was DNA and it was just no struggle,” Hubbard said of the biomedical science class at DTC.

Of more than 150 teams taking the test, the duo ranked in the top 30, which moved them on to the second – and final – stage.

Contestants were given six minutes to examine a crime scene, and read a police report, autopsy report complete with a toxicology screen, and medical examination of every bodily system.

They then had 30 minutes to figure out cause and manner of death, and write a report backing their explanation with evidence-based reasoning.

“It was very stressful,” Stampley said. “We spent the first 15 minutes not even writing. We were just circling things and trying to figure out what was going on because it was so hard to figure out.”

The pair said they were excited to hear their names called as they were recognized for ranking in the top 10 for the event, and even more so as they were called on stage to receive the fourth-place award.

“It was definitely a shocker,” Hubbard said.

This most recent year marks the third year the duo participated in the competition and the second in which they were invited to the international event. In 2017, however, they could not raise enough funds to take them.

“I guess I wish the community knew what we were doing down here at Dothan Technology Center – that these students do have these opportunities to compete in international competitions and do well in them just like these students have done,” Walworth said.

“It proves that our students in Dothan City can hang with students from across the country.”

Not only does HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) host the competitive event, but also provides a week’s worth of workshops about budding technologies in health science for teachers and parents, and information for students on how to fill out applications for medical school.

Hubbard and Stampley are headed to the University of Alabama in Birmingham in the fall on scholarship, hoping to further explore their interests in field of health science. Stampley is pursuing a degree path toward becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon; Hubbard is considering several health science specialties in his journey to medical school.

Another student, Carrie Elaine Smith, a sophomore last year, was also invited to the international event to compete in the biomedical labs category.

HOSA is the official CTSO (Career Technical Student Organization) for the biomedical science course block at the Dothan Technology Center.

HOSA's two-fold mission is to promote career opportunities in the health care industry and to enhance the delivery of quality health care to all people, according to its website.

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