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WHS alum explores career working with the dead

AMES, Iowa — Zory Hamblin loves to watch crime shows on television.

Whether she’s watching “Forensic Files” or “The First 48 Hours,” she can’t help but be interested and intrigued what caused someone’s death.

For the first time last summer, the 2015 Worthington High School graduate got the opportunity to step out a fictional story and observe the work of a real life forensic pathologist at Sanford Health Pathology Clinic in Sioux Falls, S.D. She thought it was fascinating to observe and assist in the work to determine the official cause of death for more than 25 individuals who died from a myriad of causes, including suicide, gunshot or shotgun wounds, natural or accidental death and homicide.

A judges’ panel at a recent conference that brings together 16 colleges across three states working to broaden the participation of underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics agreed. The biology major at Upper Iowa University in Fayette, Iowa earned first place in the Experimental Poster Division for her project that depicted her summer internship working with unusual clients at the Feb. 2 Iowa Illinois Nebraska STEM Partnership for Innovation and Research and Education (IINSPIRE) Conference in Ames, Iowa. The first-place prize included a $300 check in Hamblin’s name.

“I chose this internship opportunity because I wanted to learn more about the workings of a pathology clinic, and also to see if it was the right future career path for me,” she said. “It made me think I want to be the best forensic pathologist.”

Hamblin explains her desire to become a forensic pathologist not solely to work for the dead, but for the survivors.

“I want to help an individual or family members find out how their loved ones died,” she said.

Witnessing that closure family members received during her two-month internship helped solidified the career path she first became curious about as a junior in high school. The 22-year-old is set to graduate from her undergraduate studies this spring, But the educational journey is far from over.

Hamblin is applying now for graduate school. It’ll take her two more years to earn her master’s degree, then another four of medical school before beginning a two-year residency.

She’s already got her sights dialed in on the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office for her residency. It’s anyone's guess where her work will take her from there, but she knows she owes a great deal of gratitude to the internship that helped find her passion for working among the dead.