By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer
It began as bonding time — a chance for a single mother to spend time with her teenage daughter. But now it has blossomed into a potential career.
In July, Gattis Junior High School graduate Amanda Leslie will spend 10 days at Boston’s Bentley College, studying forensics, an interest planted by two cable television programs she regularly watches with her mother, Forensic Files and Cold Case Files.
“It’s kind of a ritual between the two of us,” Teresa Leslie said from her home. “We curl up in my room and watch the shows when they come on. It’s mom and daughter time.”
Community members helped raise funds for the soft-spoken 15-year-old after Introduction to Careers teacher Elwanda Bell read an essay penned by Leslie.
Bell was impressed with Leslie’s unusual response to a typical essay prompt: “Research and write about a chosen career.” Leslie, after absorbing the fast-paced detective world depicted on television, decided she would like to be a forensic investigator, using crime scene clues — fingerprints, traces of gunpowder, DNA — to catch criminals. Bell nominated Leslie for the Boston summer program, in which she was accepted.
“I want to be in a lab. And work with chemicals to try to solve mysteries. I tried to look for classes at the high school that have to do with forensics, but they are only open for juniors and seniors. I want a chance for development before college,” said Leslie, who pores over piles of forensic-related books at the Clovis-Carver Public Library in her spare time.
“Crimes scenes are kind of exciting,” Leslie said. “A lot of people are scared of them but I’m not.”
Leslie is fascinated by what makes criminals tick, how and why a certain victim is chosen, the appropriate punishment for a crime. Her counselor believes the Boston program will help cement Leslie’s career path.
“This is a good opportunity for her to find out what forensics is all about. She certainly has the interest and the ability to pursue the career,” Bell said.
Boston-bound science and math lover said she is not nervous at all.
“I’m excited. I get to see different parts of the country,” said Leslie who is looking forward to amassing wardrobe essentials, slacks and dresses, for her Bentley College excursion.