Hannah Spencer-Greathouse gains valuable experience with the Iowa State Medical Examiner’s Office


by Chris Miller, Staff Reporter

Senior Hannah Spencer-Greathouse, a forensics science major from Northglenn, Colo., always knew she wanted to go into the forensic science field – she just didn’t know where until this past summer. 

During the summer of 2021, Spencer became an autopsy tech for the Iowa State Medical Examiner’s Office – a prestigious job for an undergraduate student that requires lots of time and effort. 

Every day, she performs a variety of daily tasks. This includes preparing the setup for the doctors, listening for information on cases by investigators, performing autopsies while doctors are working on diagnoses, running toxicology reports, sending out information to doctors and cleaning up and putting everything away for the next day. 

Despite the amount of work, Spencer said she really loves her job. Once she graduates from Simpson, she plans on continuing her work in the forensic field. 

“For now, I am planning on taking a few months to a year off of school to continue working at the State Medical Examiner’s Office and getting more experience in the forensic science field,” Spencer said. “After that, I want to go to graduate school to become a pathologist assistant.” 

After graduating from Thornton High School in 2018, Spencer looked at colleges to attend and ultimately decided on Simpson College after seeing everything it had to offer.

“I always knew I wanted to go to college out-of-state but wasn’t sure where,” Spencer said. “Simpson College was only one of a few schools I saw that had a forensic science major, which is what I was interested in. They also offered me a lot of scholarships for academics and volunteering.”

Spencer says Simpson has helped her personally and professionally—allowing her to strengthen her interviewing, networking and resume-building skills and even landing her job at the Iowa State Medical Examiner’s Office. 

“If it weren’t for my job shadow at the Iowa State Medical Examiner’s Office during my May Term freshman year, I wouldn’t have my job there now,” she said. “Because of Simpson, I have grown a lot in terms of being more outgoing and finding friends who I genuinely love spending time with.”

While at Simpson, Spencer was a Community Advisor (CA) for two years and is the secretary of the Rotaract Club.

“All of my favorite memories were things that took my night by surprise,” she said. “Whether it was a spontaneous CA game night, random trips to the Waffle House in Kansas City, or sledding around the fraternities at 3 a.m.”

A message Spencer would give her freshman self relates to her growth from freshman year to now.   

“It can be hard being an out-of-state student, but nothing will be more satisfying than watching yourself build a life that you enjoy from the ground up,” she said.

Spencer will graduate in Dec. 2021.