Criminal Justice 2019
Current Position: Legal Clerk, Held Law Firm
Story Last Updated: February 2020
Current Position Updated: August 2022
The GMercyU Criminal Justice community is in essence a family comprised of an incredible, brilliant, and over-qualified group of educators that not only want to see you learn, but want to see you succeed and become a leader in your field even more.
Sarah wanted a college with a tight-knit community and small class sizes that would help her develop close relationships with her professors and peers. She wanted to continue to compete as an athlete. She wanted access to a larger metropolitan city. And, she wanted a strong, growing Criminal Justice program designed to educate holistically on the criminal justice system.
She found her match in GMercyU, and she made the most of her college experience as a member of the field hockey and track and field programs, the Criminal Justice National Honor Society, GSLI Exceptional Leaders Program, Disciplinary Hearing Board Member, and SAAC Member/Representative. She was also a private tutor in subjects such as criminal justice, philosophy, and writing.
Some of her favorite college memories include competing in conference championships and post-seasons for both sports, interning at Philadelphia City Hall, and conducting and presenting independent research on trends in natural disasters and crime rates.
What Inspired Her Interest in Criminal Justice
While she’s always had a curiosity of the complexities of the justice system and its functionality, two high school mission trips to San Salvador, El Salvador helped cement her interest in the field.
There, she discovered a culture without an efficient government and justice system, one so heavily condensed with crime that most of the community relied on income from gang-related activities. Children as young as 12 years old were recruited by family members to play some role in the commission of gang-affiliated crimes.
After witnessing this and noting the presence of some similar characteristics within communities in the United States, I knew I wanted to become involved in a career path in the criminal justice or legal field.
After devoting more time to self-discovery, Sarah decided to pursue law school. She felt that as a lawyer, she could have a greater impact on people’s lives and society at large by giving a voice to those who hadn’t previously been heard by their community.
Her Experience in GMercyU's Criminal Justice Program
“To anyone who wants to gain a comprehensive understanding of the criminal justice system, as well as learn the theories behind why crime exists – from individual to community-based standpoints – GMercyU is the place,” Sarah said.
Sarah found close friendships in her Criminal Justice program peers, who inspired a competitive educational experience. And, as shared above, she found her Criminal Justice professors to be inspirational.
“The combination of all of these elements results in the creation of individuals who are competent in the criminal justice system, confident in their knowledge and abilities, and walking with strong moral and ethical foundations,” said Sarah.
How GMercyU Prepared Her for Law School
“GMercyU taught me to understand dense theories and concepts by compartmentalizing all of the required elements and seeing how each element is essential to that theory or concept,” said Sarah, who attends Lincoln Memorial University’s Duncan School of Law in Knoxville, TN. “This has been – and is continuing to be – increasingly helpful in understanding law and legal concepts that include many parts and subparts, as well as exceptions to the rule, and how the rule can be applied in different circumstances.”
Sarah also feels the conversational skills she built at GMercyU have been invaluable. “They are essential in a line of work that requires you to take a complicated ‘language’ used in major cases throughout history – as well as in the statutes and rules in a given jurisdiction – and attempt to translate the legalese into language that can be more easily understood by the general public,” she said.
“Additionally, GMercyU taught me a major lesson about working with people,” Sarah said.
[GMercyU's] Core Mercy Values provide a very efficient guideline for anyone who hopes to work in a career focused on the public, because they give practical examples for how people can walk in mercy.
Law School Life
For her first year, Sarah is taking civil-related classes such as Tort Law, Civil Procedure, Contracts and Sales, and Property Law. Her classes will become more criminal-based during her second year.
She feels that the Duncan School of Law is a great fit. “This institution has many of the same goals and missions as GMercyU does, including a focus on the student’s success, and producing individuals who are ‘practice ready’ in their respective field,” she said.
This summer, Sarah plans to complete an externship in Knoxville, either in the District Attorney’s office, the Public Defender’s office, or at a firm focused on family law.
Advice for Future Graduates
“Your story is not over yet. If there’s some part of you – even if it’s miniscule – that wants to see how far you can go, in whatever field it might be, then you are doing yourself an injustice in not at least inquiring what your options are,” she said.
“Doubt is the enemy. You are so much stronger and so much more capable than you think or know.”