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Natalie Rivera Cardenas

Natalie Rivera Cardenas (Fall 2016 Helios Scholar) is originally from south Tucson and is currently in her third year studying Forensic Science at Arizona State University’s West Campus. When asked about why she decided on this field, Natalie responded with this: “Working in this field will provide a lot of personal satisfaction and is a great way to work with and help the community. It’s also about being a voice for those that are no longer here and helping to find justice for them.”  

Natalie quickly learned how to network upon moving to Phoenix and took part in a research project on the accuracy of fingerprint-gathering procedures. She and her colleagues presented their findings at a conference in the spring of 2018. It is through the professor that she was encouraged to apply for the Department of Justice Internship Program. After an incredibly competitive application process, Natalie started the program in the summer of 2018.

This 2018-19 school year has been especially unique for Natalie as she has also taken on a leadership position as a Community Assistant within one of the residence halls on campus. To go along with this exciting opportunity, Natalie is continuing to do part-time, monthly hours with the Department of Justice. It’s been an interesting dichotomy for Natalie to go from planning themed events in her hall to later in the week scanning her security-heavy badge to help the many projects and missions of the Department of Justice. Thanks to Natalie’s enhanced connections and networking skills, she reached out to the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office to inquire about an internship this year. At first, the examiner told Natalie that no such program officially exists, and that it would be a slim chance of her getting in. However, eventually Natalie’s determination and resume impressed their office and she has been working there twice a week for the past six months. On her first day, she was already observing autopsies and helping with body transportations.

Having been raised in a single-parent home, Natalie takes time to reflect on her goals and how far she’s come. Natalie is now focused on the next step; she is scheduled to graduate next year and is already researching MCAT preparation classes to take her to the next level. She will continue to reach out to her CSA Success Adviser for guidance and support as she takes on the next goal of medical school at the University of Arizona.

Since 2005, College Success Arizona has worked with nearly 1,300 students, and provided more than 16 million dollars in scholarships and success services to help increase the college attainment rate in Arizona. If you would like to be part of the mission of providing educational opportunity to high potential students from low income backgrounds, your tax-deductible contribution can be made through the “Donate” button on the top of this page.

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