Advancing My Criminal Justice Career – Johana Calderon Suarez

“I chose to earn my M.A. in criminal justice because it will allow me to move into a career where I am helping my community’s most vulnerable people. In order to do so, I needed important skills and tools to apply evidence-based policy and practice in my caseload.

Earning my master’s degree is an immense accomplishment. It has given me confidence and a sense of unwavering empowerment. I gained knowledge and experience to help me in my career and life in general. In addition, I acquired skills that helped me become a better listener, communicator, and problem-solver. I am certain my graduate degree will open opportunities for greater responsibilities, career advancement, and increased financial benefits.

This achievement hasn’t been easy; in fact, it feels unreal. As a single parent in college, I faced so many challenges other students can’t imagine. I sacrificed a lot to make this happen; my time with my child was limited because I had to keep my grades up, turn in homework on time, and prepare for quizzes and exams. I missed a lot of activities and get-togethers with my friends and family. But besides all of these, I had to cook meals for my child, take him to daycare, and find enough money to cover the expenses of child support. In addition, I worked endless hours and ran a business – I barely had any time for myself, but I knew these were sacrifices I needed to make.

I earned my undergraduate degree in criminology and I was fascinated by my studies. Criminology deals with why it happened, not so much with the actual crime. What made the criminal do what he or she did? Criminology is very similar to sociology in that it focuses on researching criminals’ minds and their backgrounds to learn what makes them commit crimes and how to prevent them in the future. Criminal justice deals with what to do after the crime is committed until the criminal is found guilty and sent to prison. In order to implement any policy changes, I think it is essential to fathom the difference between the two.

I’ve been so lucky; my relationship with Meredith’s faculty has been one of a kind. Their knowledge and experience have been more than simply teaching curriculum. Dr. Brown and Ms. Harris have taught me life lessons that I will carry in my heart forever. Both have activated a hunger for knowledge and wisdom, inspiring me to plan my future and become a better individual. I’ll always remember them with the deepest respect and affection for their efforts in making each lesson enjoyable and educational. Their inspiring lessons gave my life direction.

After graduation, I will be taking advantage of the temporary freedom I have earned to visit one or more places I have always wanted to see. There is possibly no greater time to do a bit of globe-trotting. Ultimately, my goal is to climb up the ladder and work for a federal institution, whether in N.C. or elsewhere.”

Learn about Meredith’s M.A. in criminal justice