Career in forensic science starts at ASU for New Yorker

Arielle Herguth

Editor's Note: This story is part of an ongoing series about student excellence at the university. To read more about some of ASU's outstanding students, click here.

It has been approximately two months since she left Long Island for Arizona State University’s West campus to begin work on a bachelor’s degree in forensics. What does Arielle Herguth miss about her hometown?

“I really miss the Chinese food from New York, believe it or not,” she confessed. “And I miss my family, of course. However, I’m so glad I was able to come here, go to these awesome classes and this wonderful school, and meet all of the spectacular people who have become my friends and have taught me so many cool things since I came here.”

Herguth is contemplating a career path that leads to a position as a medical examiner. While pursuing a bachelor’s degree in forensics through ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, she also is taking advantage of the opportunities offered by Barrett, the Honors College, which recruits academically outstanding undergraduates from across the state and nation, and is active on all four ASU campuses.

When it came time to choose a college, Herguth considered Yale University, Duquesne University and the University of New Haven. But after an ASU campus visit, she decided to make the move to Arizona. “I felt like everything was designed specifically to make sure students are prepared for the world outside school, and that the professors and staff were more than happy to help make that happen,” Herguth said about her perceptions of her ASU visit.

Now that she is partway through her first semester, Herguth reports that things are going well both in the classroom and with her experiences on campus.

“I’m in professor (Bonnie) Wentzel's public speaking class. I really wanted to get more experience in this area and this class is really helping me to improve myself,” she said. “My biology and chemistry classes are really interesting. I love the labs and I just love science in general.”

Herguth also has praise for her Barrett classes. “The Human Event is probably one of the best and most thought-provoking classes I’ve ever taken,” she said. “The honors freshman seminar, Becoming a Community of Scholars, is a very engaging experience. I’ve learned to think about things in a philosophical way (that) I would not have before.” Herguth’s freshman seminar is being taught by Ramsey Eric Ramsey, associate dean for Barrett on the West campus.

Herguth also has wasted no time getting involved with campus organizations. “There are so many clubs here that I wish I could join everything,” she said. “I joined Barrett Artists and Musicians, the chess club my friend Carissa is organizing, the Otaku club and the Cosplay club, which is setting up a convention that I’m really excited about. I also want to join the Conservation Chemistry club. I'm so happy I could find activities that reflect my interests and find others who have those interests, too.”

The West campus has proven to be an ideal setting, Herguth said. “The campus is so beautiful. I love the fact that it’s just the way it is, not huge enough to get lost, but not so small that you never meet anyone new.”

Herguth started meeting people at the West campus during her visit in her senior year of high school. Among them was Todd Sandrin, associate director of New College’s School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences and associate vice provost at the campus. Sandrin says Herguth will be entering a growing field when she graduates.

“A recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report predicted that jobs for forensic scientists will grow significantly faster than average in the coming years,” Sandrin said. “Forensics graduates are prepared for careers in forensics laboratories and in the research and development of new technologies in the field. Graduates of the program also will be well-prepared to pursue advanced degrees in the sciences or law.”

In addition to its emphasis on biology, chemistry and the analysis of evidence, the forensics curriculum focuses on oral communication skills, which are important in preparing graduates for the multifaceted and multidisciplinary aspects of careers in forensics, such as providing articulate and compelling expert testimony in criminal trials. The public speaking course Herguth is now taking is part of the degree curriculum.

The opportunity to develop and use multiple talents may be part of what attracted Herguth to forensics a few years ago when she happened upon the video game called Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. “I soon came across a character named Ema Skye, who was so enthusiastic about and in love with forensics. She made me interested in the science behind solving crimes and I’ve been reading everything I can about it since then,” she said.

Herguth’s natural curiosity and desire to learn and explore make her a perfect fit for ASU, said Joe Swingle, director of New College and West campus admissions for the university’s Undergraduate Admissions office, who also met with Herguth during her campus visit.

“The value ASU places on entrepreneurship encourages our faculty and students to pursue innovative and creative ideas, which is the reason we are on the cutting edge in so many disciplines,” Swingle said. “This benefits students across all majors by giving them unique research opportunities in areas that are confronting some of the major challenges facing our world today.”

Added Sandrin, “Arielle is a talented, hard-working individual, and her talents and work ethic will take her far. We’re extremely pleased that she has chosen ASU, New College and Barrett to assist in her next phase of personal and professional development.”