Senior Spotlight: Tasha Turner ’20 Dreams of Becoming a Medical Examiner

Senior Spotlight: Tasha Turner ’20 Dreams of Becoming a Medical Examiner

Senior Spotlight: Tasha Turner ’20 Dreams of Becoming a Medical Examiner

Graduating senior Tasha Turner ’20, a first-generation college student, knows how to turn a setback into a comeback. During her time at John Jay, she met each challenge—whether it was the loss of her unborn child or falling behind on classes—with the determination to give it her best and graduate with a college degree. And now, that she’s earned her bachelor’s degree in Forensic Science, Turner is looking back at her time at John Jay with appreciation and envisioning her future as a medical examiner, where she hopes to help families find peace following the loss of a loved one.

What made you want to come to John Jay College?
I went to the High School for Law Enforcement and Public Safety in Queens, New York, which is known for having a lot of graduates that go on to John Jay, so in a lot of ways it was a natural choice for me. What really attracted me to the College though was its Forensic Science program. It sounded really intriguing and turned out to be perfect for me since I want to be a Medical Examiner.

What were some of your biggest challenges? How did you overcome them?
When I first started at John Jay I was pregnant. It was a difficult pregnancy and ultimately, I lost the baby. The loss meant I couldn’t finish my first semester and ended up falling behind on my courses. To make up for that, when I returned to the College, I doubled up in classes, and that made it really hard for me to navigate life. However, I had a lot of support from friends, family, and people on campus, and I was able to finish the semester strong. I also came to the College thinking I wanted to go into law enforcement but quickly realized it wasn’t right for me, so I focused on Forensic Science.

“There’s a saying, ‘it takes a village,’ and I can honestly say individuals from APPLE Corps and COSL really made up my village at John Jay. They helped me grow and supported me every step of the way.” —Tasha Turner

If you had to point to one organization, cohort, or person at John Jay that made your experience especially fulfilling, who would it be and why?
It’s really hard for me to single out just one. There are two organizations that helped me tremendously throughout my time at John Jay and that’s APPLE Corps and the Office of Community Outreach and Service Learning (COSL). At APPLE Corps Muldy Flecher, and Jennifer Hernandez-Khan, and Natalie Jordan—my mom calls her my gladiator—were always there to support me and offer advice on classes, possible career paths, and life. And at COSL, Anika Fraser, Rima Douglas, and Stephanie Colon provided a space to vent and a shoulder to cry on when I needed it most. There’s a saying, “it takes a village,” and I can honestly say that individuals from APPLE Corps and COSL really made up my village at John Jay. They helped me grow and supported me.

Do you have a favorite memory with APPLE Corps and COSL?
The APPLE Corps team all came out to support me when I hosted a Karaoke Clothes Drive—it was nice to have them all there cheering me on. I also really loved COSL’s team-building exercises. I remember there was one where I had to climb a 50-foot pole. Now, I should mention that I’m afraid of heights. While I was climbing up this pole, all I could hear was Rima’s voice saying, “One more step, it’s just one more step.” Of course, it wasn’t, I still had more than halfway to go, but her support really motivated me to keep going and moving up. And then on the way down, I was focused on Stephanie’s voice, which helped me stay calm.

What do you hope to do after you graduate from John Jay?
I’m planning to take some time off before going to medical school. I really want to spend some quality time with my mom. She’s my rock. Mom would stay up late at night with me while I was completing assignments, making sure I was okay. So, for the next few months I want to just take care of her. Then I’ll go to medical school, hopefully get a fellowship at a morgue and go on to become a medical examiner. The profession combines two of my favorite things, helping people and science. To me, a medical examiner gives a voice to the dead, and in many ways can help bring justice and peace to the family that is left behind.

“Being a first-generation college student can be difficult at times. There’s no one in the family that can relate to what you’re going through. But it’s also really rewarding because you’re paving a new way for those coming after you.” —Tasha Turner

Is there someone special that’s particularly proud of your accomplishment? Who are they and what would you like to say to them?
My immediate family, including my mom, grandmother, and little brother are all really proud of me. They have been so supportive of me, not only during my years at John Jay, but all my life. My little brother even attended events on campus, cheering on my every endeavor. At times it’s been a tough journey. Being a first-generation college student can be difficult at times. There’s no one in the family that can relate to what you’re going through. But it’s also really rewarding because you’re paving a new way for those coming after you, and I’m already seeing immediate benefits. My little brother is now in his freshman year at college and I’m helping him with his academic journey.