Meet Layton Weekes: A UVU graduate working in her field!


What in the World?

I didn’t realize I was adopted until I was eight years old, watching a home movie. Everybody was celebrating, and I was like, “What in the world?” I asked my mom, and she said, “Oh, yeah, that’s your adoption party.” It was a shock. To no fault of my parents, I reacted negatively. I hid in my room. It went south for a little bit.

My parents gave me the space they obviously saw I wanted, which helped a lot because I was able to go through what I was thinking and process my emotions. And even at eight, I realized I was in a loving home. These are my parents. I’ll just have to figure out where I really came from someday. These people wanted me. They chose me. And that became the running joke — that I was chosen.

Layton surrounded by her family on her wedding day.

Forensic Files

I started watching “Forensic Files” when I was four years old. “Forensic Files” is a real-crime show from the 1990s where they solved crimes with modern technology. Probably not the most kid-friendly show, but I had the dream of becoming a forensic scientist at six or seven years old.

I’m a first-generation student, and my parents understood the importance of going to school. It was their dream that each of us five kids would graduate from college, so it was a big push.

It honestly wasn’t my first choice to pick Utah Valley University as the school I would go to — first, because it snows here — but UVU has the most affordable and accredited program for forensics on the entire West Coast, and that was a big driving factor.

Layton in a hazmat suit and gloves holding a pillow and smiling at the camera.

Real Knowledge for the Workforce

Amie Houghton is the best person I have ever met in my entire life. She lives and breathes forensics. I’ve never met someone who purposely tries to create a relationship with every student. I sound like I’m trying to build her up on a platform, but she really is just amazing. She’s the one who has fought for funding to get supplies. The one that fought to get the program accredited.

You can only learn so much in a classroom, especially when you’re choosing a hands-on field. Forensic science at UVU is amazing, but we are limited in the classes that are offered. Amie Houghton would send out email blasts of job opportunities and training that we as students could go complete, and she pushed each of us to go find an internship.

I was able to intern as an autopsy assistant at the office of the medical examiner in Taylorsville, Utah. That, by far, is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I think there’s no other way that I would have learned how tedious you need to be or what it means to be disassociated with forensics in terms of what you’re seeing and what you’re processing mentally.

Not only was that my greatest moment, but it was also just a personal victory because I knew that I had chosen the right career for me. I was able to withstand what I was seeing every time I would go into my internship. It was just so much fun to be able to say, “Yes, I learned this in school, but it’s real knowledge that I’m actually using in the workforce.”

Layton holding her diploma while in her cap and gown smiling.

Killer Job

I now work full time at UVU. I am an admin for the associate vice president of development. It’s not directly related to forensics, but I’m still able to be in touch with Amie, who is the program director of forensics.

I have enjoyed working at UVU, but I have dedicated my entire life since elementary school to learning science and forensics. I 100% want to work in forensics very, very soon. I don’t know if that’ll be as a clerk or as an autopsy assistant like I was able to do in my internship, but I have a very strong passion for forensics. I hope that I’m able to continue building contacts and my relationship with the program director here at forensics so that when I’m ready to move on, I’m going to have a killer job.

Advice to UVU Students: Find Your People

My current advice for anyone going to UVU is to have a friend. You're supposed to be having fun on top of learning, and you need friends to do that.

Layton with 2 males and a female in hiking clothes on a mountain interlocking arms and smiling at the camera.


UVU Forensics Science Director Amie Houghton

UVU Forensic Science program


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