On the Case
As a junior criminal justice major with a psychology minor, Christina Stewart '19 is on the case in PLV. She was even selected to present her research in Germany last fall!
There are no cold cases for Christina Stewart '19. She's a junior criminal justice major with a psychology minor, and she's been busy on the PLV Campus! Stewart conducted research alongside the Assistant Vice President for Undergraduate Education, Susan Maxam, PhD, on human trafficking in the US. She interviewed legal professionals and collected incident reports in order to create crime maps used to demonstrate where human trafficking occurs. And all that hard work paid off—Stewart was selected to present her final research findings at the International Journal of Arts and Sciences Conference in Freiburg, Germany!
She's served as the Secretary for Alumni Hall Council and as the Secretary for Elm Hall Council, and now, she's the President of the Criminal Justice Society. Stewart has also interned for law offices, a probation office, and most recently, the Legal Aid Society of Westchester County. What's she up to now? We caught up with her recently to find out!
Why did you end up choosing Pace? What set Pace apart from other universities?
I ended up choosing Pace because of its location and the opportunities it offers. It's close to home, but not too close. I still get that college experience of being away from home without being too far. In addition to its ideal location, Pace makes it easier to get a job or internship. They offer numerous resources, such as Career Services, which prepare students for success outside of the classroom.
How did you hear about Career Services? Were you referred by a professor or a student?
I first learned about Career Services during my freshman year in my UNIV 101 class. From there, my professors reiterated that it was a great resource, and in particular, they suggested that I go to Career Services for help with resume writing. I took their advice, and have been going ever since. I've found it to be extremely helpful.
Who worked with you?
I originally worked with Nicole Catalfamo, who was incredibly attentive. She assisted with updating my resume and helping me find an internship. I would always brag about how efficient and on top of things she was—I could email her a copy of my resume with some changes that I wanted her to make, and she would email me a revised copy within an hour. She even went out of her way to personally call all the law firms in my town to ensure that I would have at least one internship for the summer (and ultimately, she was the reason I actually got one).
Since then, I have been working with Victoria Quaranta. She has been very helpful as well! I would also like to mention my professor, Maryellen Martirano, as someone who has been a tremendous help. Professor Martirano is the internship coordinator for the Criminal Justice Department on the PLV campus. She helped me get my internship at the Legal Aid Society of Westchester County, and at the United States Department of Probation for the Southern District of New York.
What was the preparation process like?
I've mainly gone to Career Services for help with resume building, so any time I went, I made sure I had a list of key notes that I wanted to include. All I had to do was set up an appointment and email a copy of my current resume to whichever career counselor I made an appointment with. Each counselor I've met with has been very professional, offering helpful tips for how to build a standout resume.
Of all your employment positions, which did you like the best? What was a defining moment for you while working there?
It can be said that experiential learning can leave a long-lasting impression on you, and can teach you more than simply learning inside a classroom. In my case, this could not be more accurate. Each employment position I've had has presented me with a different experience. For this reason, I value each experience equally.
During my time at Pace, I have had three internships. Last summer, I completed two internships simultaneously. I was an intern at the United States Department of Probation for the Southern District of New York in White Plains, and I was also an intern at the Law Offices of Cecilia Buck-Taylor in my hometown of New Milford, CT. Last fall, I interned at the Legal Aid Society of Westchester County in White Plains, NY.
It is safe to say that I have had quite the exposure to different aspects of the criminal justice system. I can honestly say that I have been able to see the criminal justice system through several different lenses. From the perspective of a prosecutor and defense attorney, to a probation officer, and even to judges and witnesses while sitting in on court hearings was such an enriching experience. I witnessed the criminal justice system come full circle, which was certainly the defining moment for me throughout all of these opportunities.
What motivates you?
Doing a good job and making myself proud is my primary motivation. I always strive to put in my best effort whenever I'm faced with a task because I want to achieve the best result possible. I believe my work and work ethic is a representation of myself, so I strive to do well.
On top of being the Secretary for the Elm Hall and Alumni Hall councils, you're also the President of the Criminal Justice Society. How have these roles shaped you as a professional?
Freshman year, I was the Secretary for Alumni Hall Council, and my sophomore year, the Secretary for Elm Hall Council. Throughout both of these positions, I worked with E-Board members to plan and host events for residents, I recorded minutes at weekly meetings and events to relay information to residence hall members, and I inputted student attendance to calculate student engagement efforts. I learned how to communicate effectively with members of the E-Board, and I learned to work collaboratively. I also learned the importance of delegating tasks so that everyone is held responsible, ensuring that no one is left with all the work.
I have been the President of the Criminal Justice Society since April 2017. As President, I have been molded into a more confident, comfortable public speaker. I've learned the importance of planning ahead, organizing, and making sure people are on the same page. Having open communication with your club members is especially important. When there's effective communication, less problems ensue. I've also learned to be a more effective listener by taking into account the suggestions and recommendations of club members.
You were selected to present your research on human trafficking at the International Journal of Arts and Sciences Conference in Germany. What an incredible achievement! What was that experience like?
Over the summer, I participated in the Provost's Undergraduate Student-Faculty Research Program alongside Sue Maxam, PhD, who has served as a mentor since my freshman year. As one of the most vile crimes committed against humanity, human trafficking is a dilemma that is extremely common across the globe—even in the US. Simply put, human trafficking is the unjustified trade and exploitation of individuals for sex or for labor through force, fraud, or coercion. It erodes human dignity and is an incredible ethical challenge facing the world today. Through our research project, "Using Crime-Mapping to Understand and Identify Hot Spots for Human Trafficking in the US," we brought awareness to the issue of human trafficking, while also helping to dispel the myth that it's an overseas problem by mapping out hotspots in NYC where this inhumane crime is most prevalent. Maxam submitted our research to the International Journal of Arts and Sciences for a chance to present our findings at a conference in Germany, and we were chosen from thousands of international applicants. It was truly a shock to the both of us that we were accepted, and we immediately started planning for it. That would be my first time out of the country.
The conference ran from November 28, 2017 to December 1, 2017, and was held at the University of Freiburg in Freiburg, Germany. Researchers presented on the first and last day of the conference on a range of topics relating to business, education, science and technology, and social sciences and humanities. I presented on the last day of the conference in a poster presentation. I was concerned that since it was the last day of the conference, there wouldn't be many people in attendance, but this was certainly not the case. Much to my relief, there was a great turnout for my presentation, so much so that I ended up going over my presentation time limit and remained presenting for around 45 minutes. It was a surreal experience to be presenting research that I had been collecting since May, and an even more rewarding experience to see people so engaged with what I was saying. People were extremely receptive to the information and asked a lot of questions. I truly felt like I achieved my original purpose behind the project, which was to raise awareness about this modern-day slavery.
As part of the conference's program, we spent a full day in France and Switzerland as sponsored by the EU's Directorate General for Education and Culture. The main purpose was to provide experiential learning and to promote common values and closer understanding between different peoples and cultures. It was incredible to be able to see three countries in one week. Every location we went to was decorated for Christmas. There were places that I went to that were so picturesque, so quaint, I couldn't even believe they were real. Whether we were in Bern, Switzerland, or Strasbourg, France, each location was a feast for the eyes. Without a doubt, this was the opportunity of a lifetime. I met people from all over the world including Nigeria, Iraq, Malaysia, Indonesia, and more. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was certainly the highlight of my educational career, and a trip that I will remember for the rest of my life.
Tell us fun and/or surprising fact about you! What's something most people don't know?
I have spent quite a bit of time around inmates and in correctional facilities. This past semester, I took a course called "Strategies in Corrections Administration," taught by Kimberly Collica-Cox, PhD. Through this course, my class and I engaged in a service-learning project at the Westchester County Jail. Our objective was to co-teach a parenting program to women inmates at the jail. We were able to directly interact with the inmates and work one-on-one with them during group activities and discussions. There is a definite need to implement and maintain prison-based programming, which has been shown to reduce maladaptive behavior and recidivism, and this parenting program was the perfect curriculum to bring to the women there.
In addition to this, while attending White Plains City Court with a couple attorneys at my internship this past fall, I was "banned" from the court's jail area for being a distraction to the inmates. I had gone to the jail area of the court to sit in on a jail interview, and one inmate in particular took a liking to me. He repeatedly kept asking for my number, refused to speak to the attorneys, and only wanted to speak to me. A court officer later spoke to me and told me that I was no longer allowed back in that area because I was a distraction and made the inmates aggravated when I left. This was both entertaining and embarrassing, and it is undoubtedly something that I am going to remember for a while.
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