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Body farm, other experiences started with one class according to SH Alumni

Science Hill Alumni Anna Parrish


While she can’t talk about everything she has experienced—no seriously, she had to sign a non-disclosure agreement—the smile and excitement that Anna Parrish shows will tell you that she’s found the correct career path. Parrish, a Science Hill Class of 2020 graduate, is now a junior at the University of Tennessee and is majoring in Forensic Anthropology with a concentration in forensics.

However, it wasn’t a path that Parrish knew she wanted to go down. Instead, it was a passion that was uncovered once Parrish was forced to signup for a Career and Technical Education elective. After skimming the list, she settled on Criminal Justice. And according to her smile, it might have been one of the best decisions of her life.

“I had to take a CTE class for Science Hill, so I picked the one that sounded the most fun. Which was Criminal Justice,” said Parrish. “I took Criminal Justice I, and I loved it. Then we went on to levels II and III. That is when we got into fingerprinting and determining the different fingerprints. We did a handwriting analysis once. It was just a lot of fun.”

That is when Parrish fell in love with forensics.

“Being in that class really sparked my interest,” Parrish said. “I really had that ‘wow moment’, knowing that this is something that I want to do.”

Students like Parrish are the reason Science Hill Criminal Justice teacher Chad Robinson loves teaching.

“Anna exemplifies what hard work and determination can do,” Robinson said. “She’s had the goal of accomplishing everything she has for quite some time and went out and achieved what she set out to do. Anna was always a very driven student with natural leadership abilities.”

And Robinson said he enjoys it when his students return to visit his classroom because it helps current students see everything they can accomplish.

“Having Anna come back and speak to the current students shows them first-hand that no dream is too big, as long as you’re willing to add a little hard work and determination,” Robinson said. “I am so extremely proud of Anna, and I can’t wait to see where her career takes her.”

Parrish still has a few years of college to finish up, including a route that will more than likely take her to graduate school. But she is happy to be in Knoxville where she is expanding her knowledge about fossils, primates, prehistoric humans and much, much more.

She is currently enrolled in a skeletal processing class that allows a lot of hands-on experience.

“Going to UT allowed me to get a lot of hands-on experience with actual bones and real tools,” Parrish said.

She has even gotten the chance to meet the world-renown forensic anthropologist Dr. Bill Bass, who created the Anthropology Research Facility—more popularly known as the Body Farm—at the University of Tennessee. That’s where the non-disclosure agreement comes into play, as it is a common practice for students who work in the body farm to keep the secrets within the body farm’s walls.

While Parrish is still figuring out where her career path will lead her, she has an interest in running an osteology lab in a museum.

“There are so many options and so many things that I’m interested in, I am kind of exploring,” Parrish said. “I know that I really love museums. That would mean that I would probably have access to a documented skeleton collection.”

Even though Parrish may have gotten lost a bit as she returned to Science Hill’s campus, she also noted there were a lot of things to be excited about. Including seeing a second teacher added to the criminal justice program. She hopes that will help students find a career path quickly like she was able to do.

“Science Hill has something unique, which is the CTE building,” Parrish said. “A lot of students who I have met didn’t have these options, like CTE classes, at their high school. They didn’t have the chance to take welding or criminal justice. So they really didn’t know what they wanted to do (outside of high school).

“I feel like Science Hill prepared me to figure out what I wanted before I was just thrown into the deep end like a lot of students.”

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