The Master of Science in Criminology graduate program at SJSU brings students from all walks of life and for various reasons –although sometimes, those reasons overlap. This is what happened with two recent graduates Mayra Lopez and Carina Fonseca, who are both working towards bettering their communities.
Carina Fonseca | Alumni, Master of Science in Criminology ’22
For Carina Fonseca, earning a graduate degree in Global Criminology was rooted in part from her desire to understand the criminal justice system at a deeper level, and to better understand the United State’s place in criminology, globally.
Carina says that she was able to put her degree into practice right in her own community, “the program has given great insight surrounding the school-to-prison pipeline. With this, I have been able to look for small, but mighty ways to make an impact among the youth in my hometown and the larger city of Fresno. For example, my partner and I have the pleasure of hosting Back to School drives which includes barbering services. A fresh haircut may not be much, but we believe it can make all the difference when embarking on a new educational journey.”
Carina’s goal after graduation was to work in the probation department, and just a few months after she graduated, she accomplished it and now works as a Probation Officer. Stating how her degree allowed her to obtain this job in a competitive field, she says, “I believe obtaining a graduate degree placed me alongside those qualified candidates that have a plethora of background experience.”
When we asked Carina if she had advice for future graduate students, she shared some words of wisdom, “my best recommendations would be to not read into things, trust your gut feelings and always remain positive. Do not adapt to one single way of operating, but instead, adopt small methods and mold them into what works best for you. Copying another’s time management plan may not work seamlessly for another. As a student, you know yourself best, do what works for you. When in doubt, reach out to your peers; ideally your peers may be having the same concerns.”
Mayra Lopez| Alumni, Master of Science in Criminology ’22
Mayra Lopez with her sons
For Mayra Lopez, obtaining a master’s degree in Global Criminology was also rooted in her passion for justice studies, but it was her experience working with the homeless immigrant population in Santa Clara County that pushed her to obtain her degree. Her two sons were her inspiration and motive for completing her degree, noting, “being the first and only one in my family to obtain a master’s degree, I wanted to begin to pave the path for the future of my two sons. My sons are why I continue to work hard to obtain my dream job and to one day create a federal database for migrant deaths.”
Mayra’s advice to students interested in Global Criminology is, “[to go for it.] The program is not hard; it is up to the student how complicated they want to make it on themselves. If you are interested in Global Criminology or Justice Studies and are passionate about a specific topic, you will enjoy the program.” She notes that her student success was also due in part to the professors who were supportive, and were there to help her understand the course topics. As for her future plans, Mayra hopes to pursue a Doctorate degree.
Both Carina and Mayra noted the flexibility and format of the program as one of the top reasons for choosing SJSU.
Carina says, “I chose SJSU mainly because of the accessibility and format of the program. Not only did I understand what was expected from the beginning but there was not any room for confusion. Many of us in the program have families and with a family, education is not an easy feat. SJSU understands real life. SJSU wants you to succeed.”
Mayra says, “I chose to attend SJSU because the Master’s degree in Global Criminology was completely online, and it worked perfectly with my busy life as a mother, wife, and professional. SJSU will always have a special place in my heart. During my undergraduate, I had my first son, and being able to enroll my son at the Child Development Center, allowed me to graduate on time. SJSU has excellent resources for everyone and everything. I enjoyed going to the writing center to get help, and they always gave the best feedback[…] SJSU was a fantastic experience, and I am proud to have attended. I am a proud Spartan.”