Among the Howard Payne University seniors who crossed the stage during HPU’s recent Commencement ceremony was Kierstyn Evans of Anson. Evans, who earned a Bachelor of Science degree in forensic science, has been accepted into the forensic science graduate program at Texas Tech University.

Evans is a lifelong fan of Texas Tech and originally planned to earn her undergraduate degree there as well.

“Tech was my dream school,” she said. “I wasn’t planning on going anywhere else.”

Upon learning that the university did not offer an undergraduate forensic science major, however, she was left with a big choice.

“I was either going to stick with forensic science and go to a different school or change my major to go to my dream school,” she said.

Despite being accepted to Texas Tech during her senior year of high school, she decided to pursue an undergraduate degree in forensic science. She took to the Internet to research her options.

Around that same time, she learned about HPU through her high school band director and associate band director, both of whom are alumni. When HPU came up in her searches for undergraduate forensic science programs in Texas, she decided to visit campus.

“I remember that my tour guide talked about how close everyone is on campus,” Evans said. “The more I looked into Howard Payne, the more I liked it.”

The forensic science offering at HPU is a relatively unique program, said Dr. Derek Smith, associate professor of physical science and director of the chemistry program.

“Most universities that offer training in forensic science include it as an emphasis under criminal justice, rather than as a standalone major,” he said.

A forensic science major combined with HPU’s friendly campus atmosphere made the university an obvious choice for Evans. She served as a Jacket Ambassador for HPU’s Office of Admission as a student, leading her own university tours.

“I told prospective students that they will have professors who truly care about them,” she said. “There was a professor I had my freshman year who still knew my major and remembered things we talked about years later. I don’t think you can get that from other universities.”

Though it wasn’t what she originally planned, Evans is happy with her decision to come to HPU first.

“I love Howard Payne,” she said. “Especially being from a small town, I feel like I would have gotten lost in the crowd at Tech. I like the small classes at HPU.”

Dr. Smith said Evans is the first student whose progress he has witnessed from beginning to end.

“She enrolled in general chemistry I with me and concluded in instrumental analysis this spring,” he said. “Few students have been willing to enroll in the full complement of chemistry courses that the forensic science degree requires, but Kierstyn persevered. I am proud of her accomplishment and look forward to news of her continued success.”

Another big factor in Evans’ decision to come to HPU was the Central Texas Scholarship which awards substantial financial assistance to graduates from high schools in Jones County and other counties in the Central Texas area. For more information about this and other financial aid opportunities, contact HPU’s Office of Admission at 325-649-8020 or by e-mail at enroll@hputx.edu.