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The Difference a Person Can Make

Elizabeth Ortiz, MS, F-ABMDI

Anybody can reach their goals if the mindset is right. I have always believed that, even though when I was in high school my very own school counselor told me not to even bother taking the college prep exams. I was floored. Who was he to tell me I could not achieve my dreams? Why could I not investigate why people died? Weren’t school counselors supposed to support you and encourage you to be the best that you could be? Mind you, I was in honor classes and still I was told not to bother.

The good thing about me is that I don’t give up that easily and I was able to pursue my dreams and goals. I am in the career I had chosen when I was six years old, I am a Medicolegal Death Investigator. I reached my goals through struggles, hardships and discriminations. I persevered through all of the negativity thrown at me. I knew who I was and I knew what I wanted to accomplish but I wonder if I had started my college career at Regis, would things have been different?

I enrolled in the Master of Science in Criminology program at Regis after obtaining my other degrees from the University of Colorado Denver. Although my other university was supportive, they were not as supportive as the faculty at Regis was. I can also even include the librarian. She was amazing and completely supportive in what I was trying to achieve. Never in my wildest dreams would I have believed there could collectively be that many people who would actually believe in me.

It was by a chance encounter with one of my friends who informed me about the Master’s program at Regis. She bragged about the ease of communication with the professors and their willingness to work with the students who already had careers. My interest was piqued and I applied to the program. I could not have been happier with my choice of a university. Dr. Stephen Browne was my mentor, supporter and encourager. His objective comments and questions only encouraged me to do more. Ideally, there should be more Dr. Browne’s in the world because I truly believe everybody he talks to feels motivated to improve themselves.

In my career, I often wonder if the decedent had met that one person who would have encouraged them to be the best they could be, would they have taken their life, used drugs, been involved in criminal activity or associated with individuals who did not have a high regard for their lives or those of others. I wonder what our world would be like if we all took the time to lift each other up as opposed to discouraging and belittling each other.

As a death investigator, I can actually determine when someone has been affected negatively by something or someone and they choose to end their life. I often wish these individuals would have encountered a person who would change their beliefs and emotions. I wish they would have encountered a “Dr. Browne” and maybe, just maybe the outcome would have been different.