TWC's Shaw accepted to Forensic program

Posted on: April 18, 2011

When Taylor Shaw arrived at Tennessee Wesleyan College, she thought her path would be fairly straightforward.

When Taylor Shaw arrived at Tennessee Wesleyan College, she thought her path would be fairly straightforward. Following a high school education in Meigs County and at Walker Valley High School for her senior year, the now chemistry major had plans of being a high school teacher, but that changed about a year ago. It was then that she realized a newfound interest in forensics.

With the encouragement of Associate Professor Dr. John Berch and Professor and Associate Dean Dr. Joyce Baker, Shaw pursued the forensics route and has decided to make that her profession.

"I was able to build relationships with Drs. Baker and Berch, and their motivation for me to challenge myself and to further my education has helped me realize this goal of becoming a forensic chemist." Taylor joked, "While I might leave TWC with less glassware and remnants of a few small fires, I take with me the knowledge, inspiration and confidence that these two professors have instilled in me throughout my journey with them."

Shaw applied to several post graduate programs specializing in forensics and was accepted to all of them. She chose Marshall University's Forensic Science Center – the nation's highest ranking program according to the American Board of Criminalistics qualifying tests. Marshall's Forensic Science Graduate Program is one of only a few such programs in the country that has received Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation (FEPAC) - accredited by the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

A natural fit for a chemistry major, forensics applies a wide variety of scientific principles to enhance our legal system. Shaw plans to specifically concentrate on DNA analysis.

"Taylor is a special student, she gets it." said Dr. Berch. "You can tell when a student has the gift of excelling in a particular area. We were fortunate enough to recognize that and help push Taylor to reach her potential."

In addition to Drs. Berch and Baker, Shaw received much support from Mr. Bill Danner and Mr. Eric Swafford – her high school math and chemistry teachers, respectively.

"Those men helped build a strong foundation to help with this journey," she said.

"I have a strong moral compass in what is right and what is wrong. Although it sounds cliché, I wanted to find a career that would enable me to use my talents and skills in such a way that would be beneficial to society. My family, especially my mother, have continually encouraged me. I am thankful for their love and support as I continue my education," she said.

Following graduation from the program, Shaw hopes to work with a government agency like the FBI or even a state Bureau of Investigation.

Tennessee Wesleyan College, founded in Athens, Tenn., in 1857, is a four-year liberal arts institution affiliated with the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church. The College's dedicated faculty and staff believe in providing the resources and support students need to become socially responsible, intellectually skilled and spiritually developed members of our community. For additional information about Tennessee Wesleyan College, visit, become a TWC fan on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at