Outstanding CHSS Scholars
Please join us in congratulating our outstanding CHSS Scholars for 2017! These students and their achievements represent the best of the best for their respective disciplines.
Erika Waterman-Smith - 2017 Outstanding Master’s student in Criminal Justice
Erika received her Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Kennesaw State University in 2008 and started the MSCJ program at Kennesaw in 2014. She worked as a Graduate Research Assistant for Dr. Sutham Cobkit, Dr. Heidi Scherer, and Dr. Sam Abaidoo. As a research assistant for Dr. Cobkit, Erika presented their work on Police Officer Suicides in Thailand at the Southern Criminal Justice Association in September 2015. In her capacity as research assistant for Drs. Abaidoo and Scherer, Erika worked on a SIG grant from KSU’s Division of Global Affairs. She contributed to the development of a survey instrument, administration of the survey, and the data analysis. In spring 2017, Erika defended her thesis entitled “Perceptions of Justice and Motivations for Becoming a Police Officer: Differences Across Recruits and Law Enforcement Officers” and will graduate from the MSCJ program.
Michael Daugherty - 2017 Outstanding Senior in Criminal Justice
The worst experience of my life was the day I watched my father die in a traumatic accident and seeing how it affected my family. However, the worst day has led me to much more positive experiences. It taught me that hardships and negative situations will provide positive effects in the long run; it is just up to you in order to find them. This situation proved the quote "do not grow weary in doing good and you shall reap a harvest when it is time" Galatians 6:9. Since his passing, I have promised myself in maintaining this internal outlook of seeking the positive effects. Up to this point, it has shown me how far I can go and what all I can accomplish. It has reinforced a lot of positive characteristics about me. If this day had happened any other way, my father would not have molded me in the man I have become today. Yes, I do miss him; but, sometimes the most lasting and strong effects require the experience of hardship and difficulty. I believe this mentality and outlook greatly assisted me at Kennesaw State University. No college journey is easy, for anyone. College is a time in place to allow individuals to grow and it creates such a strong foundation for their future. Trials of hardship create strength in the present area of weakness. Knowledge gained in the classroom or outside of the classroom is much like an investment. It is quite difficult to forfeit the money during the present, but when it is needed it at a later point in time, it will be of great use. With this being said, Kennesaw was a large investment for me. But, I am already seeing its positive effects. There were a lot of difficult experiences at school. Everyone has those classes that challenge them to the point of questioning their passing capability. For me, those classes taught me the most. As a criminal Justice student, my horizons were greatly expanded by these classes. I have always been interested in learning what makes people who they are and why they act the way they do. However, my criminal justice journey did not start off on this path.
As students almost always do, I changed my major. In fact, it changed several times. However, I was pretty set on completing a degree in electrical engineering. I gained experience in the theories of basic electronics and I found that I really enjoyed it as a job. But, I started taking classes for my degree at the time while I was trying to complete my general education courses. During this semester, I took intro to criminal justice. During this class, I saw all of the opportunities that were in this career field. I have never been one to have the mentality of sitting behind a desk. So, it finally hit me. Criminal Justice would open up doors for me that would allow me to use my internal drive of assisting others that are in desperate need and the opportunity for a highly teamwork oriented environment. After this realization. I had no more doubts about changing majors. This started me thinking on what exactly I wanted to do in this large career field. This answer was a puzzle to me. Each class I took was a part of the puzzle. I knew it fit together, but I was not sure how yet. But, I do know that this career field can be highly competitive, so I started assessing the larger picture at stake. I knew I had to distinguish myself from my future competition. So, I started taking accounting classes because I heard they were pretty challenging. When I found that these classes were interesting, I began to see that these classes would help me gain an edge. I then promised myself I would obtain a minor in accounting. During my terrorism class, also known as sociology of group violence, I learned that a way to understand how terrorists operate is to understand how their money flows. Thus, making my accounting background quite useful. I realized I wanted to be a part of a protecting the American population from living in fear.
During my off time, I started volunteering for the German Shepherd Dog Rescue of Georgia. I started fostering German Shepherd dogs. During their stay with me, I would train them. This training would help them transition from their harsh past into their forever homes. Minka, a dog I fostered, confirmed my passion for these animals. She showed me one of the most powerful bonds and what it can accomplish. In fact I did my senior projects for senior seminar and research methods both on
canines in law enforcement and the military. Specifically, on how these animals are selected and trained. Not only did Minka show me a passion, but she gave me the motivation to continue learning about what this bond can create. Between Kennesaw and the German Shepherd Dog Rescue of Georgia, I gained a lot of knowledge inside and outside of the classroom.
This led me to the thought of gaining more experience outside of the classroom. So, I joined Beta Alpha Psi, (international accounting honor society) for accounting experience and then the KSU explorers and my internship at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center for experience in my career field. Each of these niches allowed me to gain a particular experience. But, the neatest thing was linking the two mindsets and career fields.
I also took a various classes about how individuals operate. This highly interested me because in this line of work it is crucial for me to understand how myself, others, and groups think, operate, and function in various situations. An example to clarify; I took victimology. This class showed me how and why people may act certain ways in highly negative and dark situations. Victimology got me thinking on how I may be able to help individuals in these emergences. I was already aware that I wanted to assist others, as previously stated. But, I began to think of how I may be able to accomplish this. One idea came to mind. If I can understand what goes on in the mind during emergencies from the various classes at Kennesaw like victimology, it may be critical to understand the pathophysiology: the study of the body’s physiology when something has caused it to malfunction. One of the best courses to obtain this knowledge for my future career field is Emergency Medical Technician School. I am currently enrolled in this school and plan to graduate in November of 2017.
Overall Kennesaw State has allowed me to grow in various fields of study and showed me ways to link them to my future career field. As I graduated I found that Kennesaw State University was only a section of my puzzle. Even though I do not know exactly what the picture of the puzzle may look like at this time, I have a much better idea on what this picture may obtain because of Kennesaw State University.
Michelle Mendez - 2017 Outstanding Senior in SociologyDuring my time at KSU I have had the opportunity to be part of a handful of organizations. I am currently President of the Student Organization of Sociology (SOS) and Vice President of our AKD Honor Society for sociology students. I’ve had the opportunity to participate in the Study Abroad Program in Ghana, and study different demographic views and attitude at the Cape Coast Castle. Recently, I have been recognized by Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. I’ve also done research on the impact undocumented immigrants have in the U.S economy.