Student Spotlight: Justin Strong

Degree: Criminology, Law & Society

Expected graduation: 2021

Hometown: Phoenix

Why did you choose the School of Social Ecology?

Social Ecology houses the only criminology Ph.D. program in the University of California system and is one of two programs that also specializes in law and society. It was also very clear that I would receive training from distinguished faculty whose scholarship approaches the many sides of criminalization and punishment. Lastly, the School of Social Ecology earnestly pursues an interdisciplinary environment, which grants me much intellectual maneuverability and creativity.

How did you grow interested in your current field of study?

My interest in criminology and law and society stem from my joint experiences in engaging in social justice activism and bearing witness to the effects of the criminal justice system on loved ones and fellow community members. As I have come to understand the importance of intellectual contributions to civil society and the general public, I view my own research as a means to conceive of, understand, and critique social problems.

What has been your most memorable or significant experience so far at UCI?

Soon after the 2016 presidential election, there was concerted effort on the part of undergraduate and graduate students and various UCI faculty to mobilize a response. Together we organized a university wide teach-in where people were able to strategize on how to build a stronger and more attentive campus community.

How do you envision your degree from UCI opening doors for you or benefitting your career?

I think the university provides a great deal of resources for graduate student success. There is so much to take advantage as far as course offerings, campus fellowships, professional networks, research projects, and graduate student support programs. As a graduate student, I think the task is to be as strategic as possible in linking up available resources and opportunities so that they align with one’s career goals and future aspirations. While the name recognition of a UCI degree is no doubt valuable, what one does while completing their degree will provide the most advantage.

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