Student Success Stories for Criminal Justice, M.S.

We have a very diverse group of students in the Criminal Justice, M.S. program, ranging from students who begin the program immediately following their undergraduate program to professionals who are currently working in the field. Meet a few of these students below to get an idea of what their experiences in the program are like, their interests, and their background. Are YOU our next student?

Ayris Gonzalez

Danielle Womeldorf

I earned a BA in Criminal Justice and a BS in Women and Gender Studies from Grand Valley in August 2012 after completing a study abroad trip to South Africa where I did service learning at a primary school in one of Cape Town’s townships. I knew  from my undergrad experience that I wanted to complete my master’s program with GVSU's excellent faculty and beautiful campus. When I received acceptance for a graduate assistance position I knew that Grand Valley would continue to provide wonderful opportunities and partnerships for my future. I hope to join the F.B.I., Law Enforcement Special Victims Unit, and work closely with victim advocacy agents. I currently have a part time GA position with Dr. Carly Hilinski-Rosick, volunteer with Relay for Life, work full time as a Team Lead at Target, and play soccer with Grand Valley’s Intramural Program. The Master’s program is extremely flexible with my schedule and classes continue to challenge me with productive readings and discussions. I am a Laker for a lifetime!

Elle Teshima

I received my BA in Psychology and in Criminal Justice from GVSU in 2011.  Currently I’m in my second year at Graduate School.  I wanted to obtain my Master’s Degree here at Grand Valley because I had a positive experience in the department during my undergraduate studies, and there were faculty members who mentored me and shared my research interests. GV was already home and I knew I could continue to thrive in the social and academic environment.  I hope to pursue a Ph.D. in Sociology and teach at the university level. My main areas of interest are offender rehabilitation and re-entry, race and ethnicity, cultural criminology, and crime in the media.  I am currently a full-time GA, working with Prof. Mullendore and in the School of Criminal Justice Resource Center.  I have worked briefly in retail fraud investigation and in a secure residential setting for at-risk and delinquent youth with developmental disabilities, but am currently taking a sabbatical from outside employment while I finish my Master’s.  I am also an active member of Act on Racism, which seeks to promote awareness of everyday instances of racism via the use of skits based on actual events, poetry, discussions, and narratives and inspire action against individual and institutional discrimination.

Allison Kosina

I graduated with my undergraduate degree in Sociology with a Criminal Justice focus from Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois in December of 2010.  I am a second year Graduate student here at Grand Valley.  I was referred to the Grand Valley’s Master’s program by my advisor in undergrad at Benedictine University. She said her son had previously graduated from here and that the school would be perfect for me in regards to my field of study, the distance from home, and the campus life.  I am interested in working with troubled youth and at risk populations. Initially when I graduate I would like to try and work at a behavioral disorder high school or junior high school as a counselor. I also have plans to obtain a doctorate in psychology; however I would like some experience in the field before starting this.  I held an internship in the field of health and fitness.  I also had the opportunity to study criminal justice and law in London in the summer of 2007.  I was also able to study taphonomy (the study of decaying organisms) course in the summer of 2010 at the University of Tennessee’s Forensic Anthropological Research facility; also known as "the body farm".  I am currently a full time graduate assistant working under Dr. Kathy Bailey. I will begin volunteering at the Kent County Juvenile Court in the upcoming months. Aside from this I make sure I take the time every day to do something physical or adventurous outside like going to the gym, taking walks, running, sky diving, and hiking.

Elise Pawlowski

I will be graduating from Grand Valley this fall with my Masters in Criminal Justice. Coming from GVSU’s bachelors of Criminal Justice program, I already had some familiarity with the faculty and the department. While deciding where to apply and weighing my choices, it was clear from speaking to various faculty members that I was wanted as a graduate student in the program, not just another number. My final decision, however, was greatly influenced by receiving a graduate assistantship, which eliminated financial strain and has provided excellent opportunities.  I hope to one day teach criminal justice at the collegiate level. After graduation, I plan to [eventually] pursue a doctorate.  Currently, I work full time with the School of Criminal Justice Resource Center and I also have worked with Dr. Ross in the past as part of my graduate assistantship. 

Josh Frey

I graduated from Grand Valley State University in December 2011 with a bachelors’ degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in German.  I am currently in my first year of graduate school and I chose the Master’s Program at GVSU because I knew first-hand that there was a great faculty on board here.  During my undergraduate studies I had great experiences with the professors here and I knew that I would receive the guidance and knowledge from them that would allow me to reach my goals of working in the law enforcement or security field on the federal or international scale. I hold a part time graduate assistantship with Dr. John Walsh. I am currently employed at the J.W. Marriott here in Grand Rapids working for their security department.  I am also the Vice President of the GVSU chapter of Alpha Phi Sigma, the criminal justice honor society, so the duties of that role keep me busy through meetings, events, and community service.  When I am not working or in class I love to spend my time with my loved ones.

Kim Greenlees

I received my bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley in the spring of 2011. I am currently in my second year and hope to be done with classes this spring and be finished with my project and hold my degree!  I chose this program for many reasons. The first is that I already had relationships with some of the professors that taught in the department. I had a mentor that introduced the idea of graduate school to me. Her confidence in my ability to succeed really gave me confidence that I could be a success. Another reason is the personalized classes and the time taken by professors to spend getting to know graduate students and their goals, interest, etc. The professors and faculty have shown me a new kind of respect and attention that is not present in undergrad; they really take part in your ideas and triumphs. The faculty is extremely knowledgeable and I knew that I would be given the chance to learn so much more from them than I did in undergrad. This program delves deeper into issues and topics that fascinated me in undergrad, so I am expanding on the things that I have already learned but wanted to know more about. I am given practical application of the topics as well that can help me in my chosen career. Also, I love the west side of Michigan. The culture is great; I love the atmosphere of the city and knew that I would like to stay here to obtain another degree.

I was a part time GA my first semester and a full time in winter of 2012 and currently am full time as well (Fall 2012). The first year I worked under Dr. Ross and worked in the Resource Center. I loved working in the resource center. I had the chance to meet with many undergraduate students, and I knew exactly how they were feeling when they brought in assignments to look over with me. I was able to sharpen my skills in APA and formal writing while helping others learn new things and be successful. It was rewarding to explain things to students in a way that they understood; I was able to take the time that faculty could not always take to talk through issues with them. This semester I am working with Dr. Yalda as well as the team teaching initiative. I am able to see the time and effort that is put forth to make a classroom environment successful. I am also working on research within the court system, which is a new area for me.

Justin Majewski

I was a part of Grand Valley’s class of 2011 when I earned my bachelors’ degree in Criminal Justice. I am in my second year of Grand Valley’s Criminal Justice Master’s Program. I chose GV for my master’s program because I already knew the level of academic excellence that the Criminal Justice department offers, as I received my bachelors here.  While Grand Valley is small it is becoming a leader in the Criminal Justice academic world, and I wanted to be a part of it.  Also, I love it here, it is a very welcoming environment, I love the fact that if I ever need help with almost anything I know that I can just walk into a professors office and they are always willing to help.  Grand Valley’s Criminal Justice department has at least one professor that is an expert in nearly every aspect of the Criminal Justice profession I have never found myself at a point where there was not somebody to help me.  When I am not in class or doing homework, I enjoy playing with my dog Emma, she is 3 year old female chocolate lab, outside, and I train her for the ultimate air dog dock jumping competitions. I also enjoy hunting, and ice fishing.

Page last modified August 16, 2017