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Keep Evolving: Samira Taylor

Keep Evolving: Samira Taylor

It was the hit TV drama Criminal Scene Investigations (CSI) that sparked Samira Taylor’s interest in forensic science. With the help of her guidance counselor at Theodore Roosevelt High School and the support of Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Shontae Waldrip, Taylor discovered Hilbert College in Hamburg, NY. The small liberal arts college offers an academic track in forensic science/crime scene investigation. After one visit to the campus, she was hooked.

Through Hilbert’s Learning Center, Taylor received support with taking exams and tutoring in English. After earning a bachelor’s degree, she returned home to D.C. and was selected for the District’s Aspiring Professionals Program. The six-month internship program gives people with disabilities an opportunity to work in professional jobs at various District Government agencies. Taylor interned with the D.C. Department of Forensic Science, a perfect position for a person passionate about science and math. DFS conducts evidence testing as requested by the Metropolitan Police Department, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the Office of the Attorney General, and other law enforcement or investigative agencies. Taylor learned the department’s tier-testing approach to evidence and checked testing requests for accuracy. She is quick to note that the process of forensic examinations takes a lot longer in real life than it does on television. One experience at DFS was undeniable confirmation that the forensic lab was the place for her.

During her internship, Taylor worked with personnel in various units within DFS, such as biology, fingerprints, and firearms. She was excited to absorb as much information as possible. Her curiosity led to an invitation to observe an autopsy, something that was on her internship bucket list. That experience heightened her resolve to continue employment with DFS. In July 2020, Taylor was hired as a forensic science technician. Forensic Intelligence Unit Manager Brandy Cramer was impressed by Taylor’s knowledge of department operations and her initiative. “Samira is wonderful. She is very personable and grasps information quickly.” VR Counselor Waldrip recalls how determined Taylor was to work in the science field. “She was very diligent in applying for positions and practicing her interviewing skills.” And her commitment paid off.

Taylor commented that people with disabilities grapple with frustration and get stuck sometimes. “We tend to put our all into everything we do to succeed and show people that there is more to us than our disability.” She asks employers to be willing to take a chance on people with disabilities because “we are the best workers.” She encourages young adults with disabilities "to never give up when struggling with something that is very hard. It’s OK to fail, but you have to get back up and keep evolving.”