National University

10 Years later: Revisiting a 2002 Graduate

The Year was 2002.  The film “Chicago” won Best Picture at the Academy Awards; Alicia Keys was named “Best New Artist” at the Grammy Awards; and Actor Edward James Olmos gave the keynote address at National University’s San Diego Commencement.

On the small screen, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation was in its third season and was ranked the Number One television show in the United States.  National University graduate Maria Dominguez (MFS, 2002) said it was “the only show I watch,” and credited the CBS hit series as her inspiration for pursuing a Master of Forensic Sciences degree.

It may have seemed odd to some that a prison guard from Calipatria would spend her leisure time engrossed in murder mysteries, but Ms. Dominguez claimed that blood and bodies didn’t bother her.  “They actually inspire me,” she said.  “I have learned a lot from that program.” The native of Mexicali admitted that crime scenes had fascinated her since she was a little girl. “It’s been rewarding to guard the criminals,” she added, “But it is even better to catch them.”

Ms. Dominguez sometimes drove two hours to class and graduated on Mother’s Day.  She said she was the only one in her family to possess a graduate degree, and that her accomplishment was an inspiration to her daughters. “If a working single mother like me, living in Calipatria, can earn her degree, than so can a lot of other people,” she said. 

Soon after graduation, the National University alumna was selected to work in the investigative unit at Calipatria state prison, where she was responsible for crime scene investigations related to inmate stabbings, deaths, homicides and suicides.” I had certain assignments due to the expertise and knowledge I acquired with my degree in forensics such crime scene photography, collection of DNA, and collection of latent prints,” she said.  

Eventually, Ms. Dominguez became parole agent in San Diego, California, where she was able to utilize her knowledge in different areas. She received education incentive pay for having a Master's degree. In 2009, she entered into a doctoral program and is currently in the process of completing her thesis proposal for submission November 2012.

It has been a rewarding decade for the MFS graduate, who invites others to follow in her footsteps. “I encourage others to invest in their education,” she said. “It’s the best investment one can make.”