Neal Hodgson has been lecturing to students from the grammar school to college level for 49 years. The retired medical examiner calls these talks a labor of love. "If I can turn one student around or stop someone from getting on drugs that makes it worthwhile to me."
Recently Mr. Hodgson was at the Orleans Career and Technical Education Center talking to the Security and Law Enforcement classes of Steven Browning and Gene Newman. His lecture that day contained a lot of relevant information and observations about the state of our country, a video of an autopsy, evidence from deaths he has attended and tales of his own his experiences. "I tell students about my story and I don't BS them."
Mr. Hodgson focused a lot of his lecture on the heroin epidemic crisis. "I have been preaching about the heroin epidemic for years and no one would believe me. Buffalo area law enforcement and medical professionals kept burying their heads in the sand and saying that is an inner city problem, it won't happen here. Well guess what? It's happening in our affluent neighborhoods too. I think as a result we are going to see a lot more suicides.”
He explained that many high school and college students have been able to hide their addiction for many years because their food and housing have been taken care of by their parents, but once they get out in the workforce and have to take a pre-employment physical it will come out leaving them basically unemployable. "They are addicts. They won't be able to get a job, their health will deteriorate. The other shoe is going to drop." One of the students watching the lecture said that this part of the lecture really bothered him. "He told us about a boy who wrote an eighteen page note to his parents and then hanged himself. I think doing this sort of job would be too much for me," said Bryan VanWycke.
These lectures are a two-way street for Mr. Hodgson. "The students' questions inspire me to learn more about technology and to keep taking classes. I want to make sure I have all sorts of resources available to me to help them. My phone is on 24/7. I am always available to ask a question to or help with a problem. I don't typically get paid for my lectures so all I ask is that they pass on what they have learned." Student Amaya Beach said what she heard was fascinating. "I liked it a lot. I know this stuff is real and it is what we are going to be dealing with the career we have chosen to get into. It is very interesting."
"There is nothing more rewarding when I get a call from someone who saw one of my lectures and tells me they went on to be a paramedic, EMT or a police officer because of what I shared with them," says Mr. Hodgson. "I am 70 years old and have talked to five generations of people and I hope I have made an impact. This is my labor of love." Teacher Steven Browning says, "This was so important for the kids to see what the forensics field has to offer without the "Hollywood" in it as we commonly see in TV shows today. We are very appreciative of Neal taking the time out of his schedule to talk to our students."