When Rana DellaRocco accepted her first job processing crime scenes as Crime Laboratory Technician, she had no idea what she was getting into. CSI and other related TV shows weren’t part of the public conversation yet. So when she realized that what she assumed would be a job in a traditional lab setting was anything but, she thought “why not” and accepted the challenge. Rana says, “It was thrilling and daunting at the same time but I learned so much during my years in crime scene.”
After a few years working crime scenes through Baltimore City – handling everything from murder to burglary – Ms. DellaRocco continued to grow in the field, ultimately landing in a role with the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) as DNA Analyst.
Rana eventually assumed the position as Deputy Director for the BPD’s lab, overseeing daily operations of the former Forensic Services Division. Shortly after, she became the first ever female Director of the BPD’s Forensic Laboratory Section, a role that she holds today. Rana remarks, “During my tenure, I have served in every level of the lab from Crime Scene Technician to Forensic Scientist to Supervisor to Director and I’ve loved every one (although crime scene does hold a special place in my heart – it was a once in a lifetime experience). I’ve had an amazing journey.” As an Adjunct Professor for Stevenson University Online, Ms. DellaRocco brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Forensics students that she teaches.
Rana describes her position as Director as being “multi-faceted” with her primary focus being the labs she oversees. Of course, you cannot be in a leadership position without the help of your support team. Rana states, “We are great because our people are great. All of the things I mentioned cannot be achieved without a staff of scientists, technicians and practitioners who love coming to work each day and who are committed to service.” One of the goals she has for herself and her team is for real-time turnaround on casework by reducing the backlog numbers for some of her units.
Ms. DellaRocco is aware of the importance of investing in her employees and empowering them to assume leadership roles in the lab. Among everything that she does, she remarks that leadership development is one of the most challenging, and also fulfilling parts of her job. While it requires her to let go of some control, she is rewarded by seeing staff succeed and grow. She says, “I truly love it when a student comes to me and says they just got a job they love or when someone whom I’ve given advice to at work achieves a major success.”
To individuals who are considering pursuing a career in forensics, Rana advises, “That they truly evaluate whether they want to be a scientist or not. Forensics isn’t what you see on TV. It isn’t glamorous or easy. It’s working in a lab, processing samples, testing items, recovering evidence on scene, being a scientist under intense scrutiny and pressure. People go to jail, are freed, have the worst thing that ever happened to them resolved or not based on your work.” In addition, the field requires intense levels of oversight, expectation and pressure with an ability to adapt on the fly. She remarks, “We are faced with decisions that change lives, that must happen quickly and we need smart, nimble thinkers!”
Rana DellaRocco is an Adjunct Professor for Stevenson University Online and can be found teaching Serology and Immunology (FSCI 640). Stevenson University Online offers 5 undergraduate and graduate-level Forensics programs, including Forensic Science, Forensic Studies, Forensic Investigation, Forensic Accounting, and Crime Scene Investigation. Courses are offered online in convenient 8-week sessions and students can start their program in the fall, spring, or summer semester. Stevenson University Online can help you reach your professional goals through our flexible degree programs. For more information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-877-531-7118.