Oriana Ovide (BS ’20, MS ’22) was always interested in science and math, a true STEM kid from her Columbia, Maryland, days to searching for the right school that would foster her interest in forensic science, particularly in forensic chemistry.

West Virginia University hit the mark for her when she visited, not only because of the outstanding forensic program, but because as she was walking around campus, she noticed that there was a sense of school unity she hadn’t seen anywhere else.

“Everybody I was passing had some sort of apparel with WVU or the flying WV on it, and for me, that signaled that the people on this campus take pride in going here and they have a lot of school spirit,” she recalled.

She also recalls her best Mountaineer memory as one that happened early on in her first year but has had a lasting effect. Ovide said she and her STEM major suite mates — and nearly everyone on her Honors Hall floor that year — left their room doors open and spent their evenings hanging out and getting to know each other. Ovide said that having a friend group who all had similar interests at the ready was helpful, especially for women in STEM.

Her work in Morgantown has informed her work in the Texas Department of Public Safety, particularly because of the emphasis in her studies on work in the laboratory, both in her chemistry undergraduate degree and in her Masters of Forensic Science.

“The lab component played a big role in giving me a strong base in just general laboratory skills, and since the majority of my time now is spent in a laboratory, it’s really good to have those skills and I apply them every single day,” Ovide said.

woman outside with large brick buildings in background

In addition to her practical work, Ovide said the WVU Career Center was helpful in prepping her for job résumés and interview prep. “They were helpful in getting my confidence up for going out and looking for jobs, and they weren’t just forensic science specific,” she said. “They help anybody in any major.”

Now a forensic scientist at the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Houston crime lab, Ovide spends her days in a lab determining the presence or absence of controlled substances in the evidence she’s been brought from a crime scene and her typical day mostly revolves around her casework. She will perform various analytical and chemical tests on submitted evidence and issues reports based on her findings, reviews reports and performs occasional instrumental maintenance.

The Lone Star State has multiple criteria for her to make that call, and she’s busy every day, but she’s clear that the television shows like “NCIS” and “Criminal Minds” aren’t an accurate depiction of her work life. She doesn’t go to crime scenes and her daily casework load is much heavier than what is often shown on TV.

Houston might be a long way from Morgantown, but Ovide is in touch with some of her Mountaineer family today, and was in her suitemate’s wedding just last year.