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March 21, 2022Print | PDF
Life as a full-time university student can be demanding. Attending classes, completing course work and participating in extracurricular activities – all while working to maintain good grades – are common aspects of student life. It’s a lifestyle that Laurier Criminology students Jaeda Brefo, Emmanuel Nwankwo and Marcus Shirley are thriving in.
Offered at Laurier’s Brantford campus, the university’s Criminology program examines the impact of crime on individuals, communities and society. Criminology students take an interdisciplinary approach to crime and punishment, studying sociology, psychology and the law to examine what defines a crime, why people commit them and how society responds.
Below, Brefo, Nwankwo and Shirley discuss their golden academic experiences as part of Laurier’s Criminology program, including how the program is helping them succeed now, as well as prepare for future success.
Fourth-year Criminology student, Leadership minor
I have been interested in law since childhood, as I liked the atmosphere of a courtroom where judges and lawyers come together to deal with disputes. I pursued studies in criminology to better understand why people commit crimes and the psychological aspects of it. I want to find ways to help those under-supported in the justice system get the proper treatment they need. After I complete my undergraduate degree, I plan on pursuing a career in criminal law and become the best lawyer I can be. I want to promote positive change in a broken system.
I find Laurier’s Criminology program to be very interesting and engaging. I have learned about theories of crime, like disassociation and labeling theory, the role of mental health in crime, and how criminal data and research are used. The professors are encouraging and supportive and intentionally spend time with students. As I’m considering a law career in Canada, I completed a course on the Gladue Principles of justice, which address certain considerations for sentencing Indigenous offenders. It’s important to be educated in that area.
I thrive when I’m busy and have been involved with several clubs and part-time work during the last four years. At the beginning of each term, I map out my class schedule, set my due dates and work shifts. Right now, I am working as a residence don, a Laurier Leader within the Dean of Students Office and an instructional assistant in a fourth-year capstone course in the Leadership program. I get up early and stay organized. I am able to maintain a position on the Dean's Honour Roll because I love what I do and surround myself with people who support and encourage me.
My professors have made a big impact on me, specifically Lisa Kuron and Kris Gerhardt from the Leadership program and Terry Roswell from the Criminology program. Their support has helped me to push myself further and stay focused on my career goals. I have applied to law school at the University of Ottawa, the University of British Columbia and Ryerson University and should find out soon where I’ve been accepted.
"The professors are also amazing. They believe in you and when you have that kind of support you want to keep going. Terry Roswell has been a huge source of support for me."
Third-year Criminology student
Youth from my neighbourhood were becoming involved with crime, but I didn’t want that for myself or other kids. I chose to study Criminology at Laurier so that I could show youth in my community that you don’t have to get involved in crime. There are other paths. I am particularly interested in offender rehabilitation so that I can help people successfully reintegrate into society and not reoffend.
This program has been great since Day 1. You get to know the professors and they know you by name, even in the larger first-year classes. In your second year, you can choose an area of specialization, which allows you to build areas of specific knowledge early on. I’m in my third year and am specializing in offender rehabilitation, so I absolutely loved the course CC314: Offender Rehabilitation. I am looking forward to learning more about victimology in my fourth year.
The professors are also amazing. They believe in you and when you have that kind of support you want to keep going. Terry Roswell has been a huge source of support for me. He sparked my interest in corrections-related research and has connected me with corrections professionals so that I can gain hands-on volunteer experiences within the system.
My research is focused on improving Ontario's revised Level of Supervision Inventory (LSI), an assessment tool used in corrections to determine the most appropriate correctional facility to place an offender after they’ve been sentenced. I am working with friends at McMaster University to build an algorithm to computerize the LSI. We are finishing our research proposals and will submit them to Laurier’s Research Office. If our proposal is approved, we can get access to the LSI and start building an algorithm to improve the process. It’s a lot of work but, when you’re passionate about it, it doesn’t feel like work.
I would like to work in corrections, either as a corrections officer or in administration supporting rehabilitation programs, and I feel that my Laurier experience has prepared me for this path. I am also considering a master’s program in Criminology and would like to stay at Laurier for that.
My Laurier experience has been amazing, even with much of it happening online because of the pandemic. I have never been this involved in school before. The professors have done an amazing job. They make me want to sit down and listen because their opinions excite me.
"Going to law school has been a dream of mine and studying Criminology at Laurier is a first step in realizing that dream."
Fourth-year Criminology student
Criminology explores a darker side of the world, including topics like corporate crime. Digging into these topics as a university student makes you think about them differently. I find it interesting.
I’ve been on the go with school, sports and music for the last few years, but I love being busy. Last year, I played defensive back for the GTA Grizzlies, which is the feeder team for the Toronto Argonauts. I’ve also been working on my music lately. At the end of November, I released my latest hip-hop album, Tape: 180. To balance everything, I make a to-do list each day and stick to it. Completing my schoolwork is non-negotiable and I never leave an assignment until the day before it’s due. My days can be long, but I always get things done.
Going to law school has been a dream of mine and studying Criminology at Laurier is a first step in realizing that dream. I’ve applied to law programs at the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, Harvard University and New York University. I’d like to study criminal law, but I’m keeping my options open. I’ve also grown as a person during the last four years, and I think that has been just as important as my academic experiences. I’ve been networking and developing myself through football and music and have taken an interest in the markets and investing. I have a good foundation beneath me and I’m ready for the next chapter in my life.
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