When I first enrolled in Quinnipiac University, I never would’ve imagined that I would be where I am today. As a first generation college student, I began my first year as an undeclared major – I was unsure about how to study for mid-terms and final exams throughout that first year, let alone about the career I wanted to pursue after graduation. After a turbulent first year, I returned my sophomore year ready to hit the ground running and declared a double major in both Criminal Justice and Psychology.
The first criminal justice course I took ignited a passion and drive inside of me that I didn’t know I had. After completing that first course, Professor McGuinn took the time to commend me on my excellent performance, and I remember receiving the e-mail to this day – as a first generation college student with no clear path ahead, the course truly changed my life. It was the first time I realized that if I work towards something, just like I worked towards that A, that I can make a difference. For me, the difference began with my GPA – after falling well below a 3.0 my first year, I decided to commit to my double-major with a work-ethic that I didn’t know I had, and thanks to the faculty support I received, along with the unconditional love and support of my family, I was able to excel throughout the remaining years of my undergraduate career.
By the end of my Senior Year, I had completed two internships, been involved in numerous campus groups and organizations, been a peer mentor for the department, and been part of the inaugural class of the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program. The class was the most transformative experience of my undergraduate career, and in tandem with the encouragement of the faculty in the department, I was motivated to continue onto graduate school. Not only did the department help me realize the potential I had to make a difference in my own life throughout those four years, but also how I can use my skills, knowledge, and resources to make a difference in the lives of others.
I am now a Ph.D. Student at Rutgers University, Newark – School of Criminal Justice. At the close of my third year, I have instructed numerous courses on constitutional issues, corrections, and mass incarceration. Additionally, I have continued to pursue my passions and as a student alumni of the Inside-Out Program, I am now a certified instructor after attending a 7-day training last May. I owe a huge thank you to all of the faculty at the College of Arts and Sciences – I would never be where I am today if it wasn’t for all of your support, along with all of the resources available for students. Thank you, thank you, thank you!