In May of 2020, St. Michael senior Caroline Simpson began her summer internship with the Baton Rouge Coroner’s Office. Although a little nervous at first, she found that the experience would positively shape her in unimaginable ways.
Having grown up with an interest in science, Simpson says what really sparked her curiosity was reading a series of fiction books called I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga during her elementary years. “The main character in these books was all about forensics and so I realized I wanted to go explore this profession as much as I could,” she shares.
Simpson’s passion was soon supported by her family when her father, Bill, bid on the opportunity to “Spend the Day with the Coroner” at the St. Jean Vianney Gala during Simpson’s 8th grade year. From that moment on, Simpson was sold. “He won it, so I went for that day and was able to see an autopsy. After that I remember thinking ‘I love this!’ and so over this past summer when I found out there was a spot for an intern with the Coroner, I jumped on the opportunity.” Simpson’s duties at the Coroner’s office included everything from sharp and blunt dissection, identifying and weighing organs, assisting with forensic photography, and assisting with documentation of the case.
Simpson admits that it was not always easy; she experienced some hesitancy going into her first few days in the office. “At first I was very nervous because I did not know if I would get emotional or upset. But my faith in God helped me understand that these people were not there anymore…their soul was gone but their bodies remained. So it made me feel almost more trustful in God…knowing that our reason on Earth is to eventually end up in Heaven. A lot of people would think of death as despair, but it’s kind of hopeful in that sense.”
Taking classes like Forensics and Biology at St. Michael also allowed Simpson to delve further into her passion. “It is really cool to learn about how science and law meet in my Forensics class. I also took Biology which helped me understand the basics, and then to build off that with the internship over this past summer was really nice. Now I am in Biology II taking my knowledge even further and building off that.”
The Baton Rouge Coroner, Dr. Beau Clark, who is also a Warrior alumnus, praises Simpson for her professionalism during the summer internship and says his staff enjoyed working with her. “She handled all her duties professionally and with great respect. She was very energetic about her job and always willing to help. She is a very ambitious young women and will succeed in her future endeavors,” Dr. Clark remarks.
Looking back on the summer, Simpson says her favorite part of the job was having the opportunity to learn how the whole process works from start to finish, in concluding the cause of death for a person. “It was just very fascinating…not like anything I have ever done. Most people do not get to have this type of experience at 17,” she says.
Simpson plans to major in pre-med at Millsaps, where she will be attending in the fall of 2021 on a soccer scholarship. She shares that her goal is to eventually graduate from medical school and become a forensic pathologist.