Nearly every student has a dream of accomplishing something great once they leave Emporia State. Some wish to become famous either through their art or research, while others wish to inspire the next generation through teaching.
One such dreamer is Christian Pascual, a first-year forensic science graduate student and Fulbright scholarship recipient from the Philippines. Pascual’s dream is to bring forensic science to his country so that he can educate generations and reduce the crime rate.
“Right now a lot of cases are being dismissed because of the mishandling of evidence. They’re (the evidence) not being admitted by court by the judges because they were not examined well, (before a) lack of people who are experts in their field like trace evidence or criminalistics,” Pascual said. “That leads to a lot of miscarriage of justice and denial of justice to a lot of victims... That loses the trust of many of my country men to the criminal justice system.”
Pascual is a professor at The University of the Cordilleras in Baguio City. His department is the Department of Criminal Justice Education.
“I’m already teaching criminal justice courses but I realized that in my country, the criminal justice system is not as effective as other neighboring countries like Singapore, and one of the reasons is that we still lack properly trained forensics scientists,” Pascual said. “That’s a problem because in order for the criminal justice system of any country to prevent and control crime, they need well-trained and professionally competent laboratory experts. I also realized that the program of forensic science is still underdeveloped in my country and that prompted me to apply for a Fulbright and study here in the United States, hoping that I would gain the theoretical and practical expertise needed to develop a forensics science program.”
ESU’s 40-hour forensic science master’s program offers students hands-on experience through labs mixed in with the traditional lecture class. The program also brings in professionals from the outside to talk with and help the students.
“I know the education I got and wanted my students to get a top-notch education,” said Melissa Bailey, director of the forensic science program and associate professor of biological science. “I think the students are getting what they wanted out of the program and they certainly are enthusiastic.”
Pascual says he has learned a lot from ESU’s program, including a lot about teacher methodology.
“In the laboratory exercises that we are doing here, we are given objects and we treat it as evidence and that simulates what it would be like in real life,” Pascual said. “The teachers are very serious about it, they will give you a deduction if you mishandle it, if you left it in an insecure place. They keep emphasizing that because you are here to prepare for the job and if you are in the field and you mishandle this, that could mean the denial of justice to real people. I like the idea of trying to simulate real-life situations in the classroom.”
Once Pascual graduates and returns to the Philippines, he intends to engage in a research study that will assess forensic science curricula that will springboard to relevant reforms in that curricula.
“When I develop the curricula I will pilot it at my university and of course it will undergo some processes and then from the university, if it becomes successful, we will apply it nationwide,” Pascual said. “It has been a long term plan for the university but no one has had the expertise to spaerhead it. After that, if it becomes successful, I intend to volunteer as one of the commissioners in higher education technical panel for forensic science so I could assist other universities who intend to develop a similar program. It’s going to be a long process.”
Along with being an advocate for justice, Pascual is a strong advocate for the Fulbright Scholarship.
The Fulbright Scholarship was started in 1945 by Senator J. William Fulbright who introduced a bill in the United States Congress that called for “the use of surplus war property to fund the promotion of international goodwill through the exchange of students in the fields of education, culture and science,” according to us.fulbrightonline.org
Currently, The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers research, study and teaching opportunities in over 140 countries. More than 3,600 candidates are rec ommended yearly, according to us.fulbrightonline.org.
“Never underestimate yourself,” Pascual said. “I thought I would never be getting a Fulbright Scholarship ever or be in the United States but I told myself, ‘If others can do it, w hy can’t I?’ Never give up on your dreams.”
Pascual’s advice to students looking to help their community is to only be socially a ware, but at the same time, ask y ourself about your interests and passions.
“There’s always something in the plethora of social problems that you’re passionate about that may be of use, of relevance,” Pascual said. “I’m passionate about criminal justice education. I’m passionate about teaching. I’ve always wanted to teach. And then I tried to look at the problems of my country and I saw some underdeveloped programs.”