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Graduating Linn-Mar student has eyes set on FBI work
Chrishelle Lawson wants to help families find answers to unsolved crimes
MARION — Linn-Mar High School senior Chrishelle Lawson wants someday to be an FBI agent, analyzing human skeletal remains to help identify murder victims.
“It definitely is a pretty morbid subject — dealing with unsolved cases and murder,” Lawson said. “Whenever I watch shows about families who don’t have answers about what happened to their loved ones, it breaks my heart. No one should go to sleep tonight wondering what happened to their family or friend.”
At the FBI, fewer than 20 percent of applicants are accepted, making jobs within the bureau highly competitive.
Lawson, 18, is one of 545 students graduating from Linn-Mar High School at 1 p.m. May 28 at the Alliant Energy PowerHouse in Cedar Rapids.
Lawson is going to Iowa State University this fall to study forensic anthropology with a possible double major in biology.
Jeanne Turner, Linn-Mar High psychology teacher, said Lawson “is going to be a true success in whatever she sets her mind to.”
Turner met Lawson last year when she was a student in her psychology class. Turner said Lawson was always engaged in class, asked intuitive questions and was a great role model.
“She’s a leader by participating, asking good questions and showing people it’s OK to ask questions, to not know an answer and to want to know more,” Turner said.
“She brightens my day when I see her. I will miss seeing her smiling face,” Turner said.
As a Black girl at Linn-Mar, a predominantly white school, Lawson said she always felt like she had to hold herself to a higher standard and “make sure I don’t act in a way that proves stereotypes.”
She’s especially proud of her grades. She recalls reading and math being challenging in elementary and middle school and worked hard “for it to click.” She said she “never gives up on trying to understand something.”
Now, she tutors students in Language Arts, helping them revise research papers, with creative writing assignments and speeches.
While at Linn-Mar, Lawson also has been involved in Teens Reaching Youth or TRY, a group that provides education about productive, healthy lifestyles for K-8 students.
Lawson has two older sisters who have preceded her at ISU. She said they have played a part in making her a more resilient person.
“Growing up, I cared so much about what people thought. My family said that not to let it detour me from my goals and the stuff I believe in,” she said.
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