Student Spotlight - Elizabeth Ortiz

Elizabeth Ortiz
Master of Science in Criminology

What about Regis’ M.S. in Criminology stood out to you that helped lead to your decision to enroll at Regis?

I wanted to make a difference here in Colorado and I had heard positive outcomes from students who had graduated from Regis University. After researching the program, I thought maybe program would provide me with the tools needed to make an impact in Colorado and anywhere else in the United States.

One of the key elements in obtaining a degree from Regis is the ability to present a thesis which could potentially lead to something greater such as changes in policies and procedures. Luckily I already had a topic in mind. My capstone would touch on the collection of DNA at coroners’ offices and hopefully one day introduce it to the senate house and make it into a house bill where it would mandated by all coroners’ offices to collect DNA on all of their cases.

Tell us about your career since graduating from Regis University’s criminology program.
I’m a Medicolegal Death Investigator, most commonly referred as Death Investigator. My primary duties are to investigate all unattended deaths in the county. Alongside to investigating the death of an individual I also educate family members about the circumstances surrounding the death of their loved one, whether it is a natural death or an unnatural death. I also provide information and education to explain natural disease. Additionally, I am also tasked with providing information with regards to those deaths that are not natural. I feel for the families and I want to be there for them as much as possible whether it is to answer all their questions, provide them with donation options, information regarding death certificates and final disposition of the decedent. I also try to give them some comfort in knowing that I am going to take care of their loved one in the same way they would take care of their loved one.

Tell us about the faculty advisor you worked with at Regis.
When I first started my program, I didn’t know which way to go, what direction to go but I knew what I wanted to do. My advisor sat down with me and he was able to provide excellent guidance. I expressed my desires with regards to my capstone and ultimately what I wanted to do in the future with regards to my capstone. Ultimately, I am trying to get coroners’ offices in the state of Colorado, which has 64 counties, to collect DNA on all the decedents that fall under the jurisdiction of the coroner.

I also spoke with Brooke, one of the librarians. She was essential in directing me in the right direction with regards to the literature and paperwork. Essentially, Brooke was an asset to my ability in researching my topic since there wasn’t much literature in regards to the collection of DNA by coroner’s offices.

Those two relationships that I formed while I was a Regis student were very strong. I personally appreciated what they did for me. These two individuals exemplify what Regis is all about.

How has Regis changed you as a person?
As a Regis graduate I can actually say it changed my outlook of life and it has brought me peace. The fact that some coroners’ offices do not currently collect DNA has bothered me for a long time and felt powerless over those policies and procedures. Once I became a part of the Regis community, I was given direction, guidance and confidence. I now have faith in myself that I’ll succeed and possibly make a difference. Regis is made up of individuals with great ideas and exude an incredible amount of energy to fulfill those ideas. What an extraordinary “family” to have! Finally, an additional change in my person is when I fee anxious, all I have to do is just come to campus, be surrounded by the trees, hear the bells, hear other people talking and smiling and know I’m doing the right thing. I will make a difference.

What have your learned (or are learning) that has made a difference to you?
I have realized or learned that I have much to learn. As a student in the Criminology program I thought I was well versed in all that related to criminology but the truth of the matter was, I was wrong. Since my first bachelor’s degree many things have changed and continue to change. I realized the world has so much to offer and I cannot become stagnant in the knowledge I have received, everything continues to evolve. Regis provided me with new ideas, new challenges, new topics of discussion and so forth. The various classes I registered for provided an insight into different ways to look at how we work with those charged with a crime but also how we are not winning the war on some aspects of criminal behavior. We are still at an infancy rate when it comes to tackling those who hurt the innocent children. There is so much to do and yet it seems there is little time do to it. The courses provided by the Criminology Department planted a seed in me to make a difference and I will never forget this feeling.

What advice do you have for incoming students?
My primary advice to the incoming students is to reach out to your classmates and your professors. Leave behind the idea of being number one in your class and so forth. Regis is a family, a family that will succeed when everyone roots for each other. Granted, we all have a sense of competitiveness and that is great but I suggest that it not be used against each other. We all want to make a difference in the community and ultimately in the world but we make a greater impact when we all support one another.

Learn more about earning a criminology degree at Regis University. Call us at 877.820.0581 to speak with an admissions counselor. Or, request information or visit our resource center to gain more insight on the criminology and criminal justice industry.

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