Derek Boutwell ’12, Forensic Science

Published on Monday, July 27th, 2015

derek b 2At an age when most kids are dreaming about becoming a firefighter or a racecar driver, Derek Boutwell ’12 was mixing baking soda and vinegar in a soda bottle, recording the intensity of the reaction and dreaming of becoming a scientist.

“I have always loved science, and the forensic science program at Becker College was perfect for me,” the Billerica, Mass., native said. “I’m not just collecting evidence to run tests and analyze data; I’m also problem-solving and reconstructing in order to provide answers for research, criminal cases, or just news for the public. The opportunities are endless.”

Boutwell said he appreciated his time at Becker as much as he enjoyed his major. “There is a lot to appreciate about Becker,” he said. “A smaller school means a smaller student-to-professor ratio, which is extremely helpful because professors are able to put a name to a face rather than just a piece of paper. You are able to build close relationships with not only the professors, but with the other students as well.”

Now a pathology technician in a pre-clinical laboratory at CBSET, Inc., in Lexington, Mass., a not-for-profit preclinical research organization, Boutwell assists technicians during autopsies, processes laboratory specimens, and prepares specimens to be collected on slides for pathologists to read. “What I love most about pathology is the amount of work and steps it takes to find an answer,” he said. “I became interested in this field because I am fully engaged and hands-on every step of the way. I am able to watch a subject be broken down all the way to its cellular structure. I gained a lot of respect for the field when I realized the amount of knowledge and experience it takes to become an expert, because pathology covers a wide range of science, from anatomy to microbiology and biotechnology.”

Boutwell is also currently working toward his American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) histotechnician certification; histotechnology is a science dealing with the structure of cells and their formation into tissues and organs. “My goal for the future is to gain as much experience as I can in the pathology field and become a pathology assistant so I can work on a larger scale and apply my expertise on a microbiological level,” he said. He added that he hopes to enroll in a master’s program in the future.

Boutwell’s best advice for recent graduates is to be open to new possibilities. “Don’t be afraid to venture out and try new career options,” he said. “I was dead-set on becoming a crime scene investigator and now I’m a pathology technician working my way toward forensic pathology. You will find many interests and opportunities along your career path. If a door opens up, step through it.”