When we asked graduating seniors why they choose to pursue a career in health and human services, their answers all had one thing in common: CHHS students have a desire to give back to their community.
The School of Criminology, Criminal Justice and Emergency Management is grounded in educating students to be ethical leaders in practice, policy, and scholarship; to produce informative and influential research; and to promote justice, equity, and safety through service to our communities.
While all CHHS graduates are worth celebrating, here are a few graduates whose stories stand out because of their courage to overcome challenges, follow their dreams, and have a positive impact on the lives of others.
Genecy Chopin, Criminology and Criminal Justice
An important pillar of any program within the School of Criminology, Criminal Justice, and Emergency Management is the accessibility and opportunity students have to volunteer their time on the front lines of their local justice system. Such is the case for Genecy Chopin, who volunteered for the Restorative Justice Center as a bus leader. The experience allowed her to ensure the safety of families who were afforded free transportation to visit incarcerated loved ones. The program, which worked to reunite families, heal strained relationships and promote rehabilitation, gave Chopin the opportunity to facilitate meaningful visitation experiences while spreading awareness to those with a greater need. “Most of the families that I have interacted with through the program come from disadvantaged and minority backgrounds,” shared Chopin.
Chopin attributes her success to her parents, who pushed her toward academic excellence. Like many students, she also struggled with self-doubt as she navigated her academic career. “I viewed college as a greater challenge and it made me doubt my abilities to succeed. Because of this, I struggled to actively participate during my first year at CSULB. I especially struggled to engage in lectures or seek academic resources,” said Chopin.
Over time, with the patience and encouragement of her professors and faculty members, she was finally able to integrate more into the campus community. “I finally felt like I was learning and achieving for myself and enjoying the process. With this drive, I continue to give every opportunity and task my maximum effort. Through my courses, I discovered that I genuinely enjoyed learning, especially through research and writing.”
Sarin Hanneyan, Criminology and Criminal Justice
“I want to live in a world where injustice is recognized and people are given the justice they deserve,” said Sarin Hanneyan, Criminology and Criminal Justice major, who in fall of 2020 decided to return to Armenia, her homeland, to volunteer and serve her country in a time of great civil unrest. The challenges presented to Hanneyan were unprecedented; juggling the responsibilities of being a full-time student, volunteering with displaced children of Artsakh and continuing her coursework virtually via Zoom. She shared the experience with us, stating that despite her situation, she did the best with her studies and felt that her efforts in Armenia were appreciated.
“I don't know the impact of my own personal efforts. However, I feel content knowing I did my part and that I will be doing more once I graduate and have my degree. I plan on serving my country always and always doing what is needed for the betterment of my nation.”
Sana Fazalbhoy, Criminology and Criminal Justice
Sana Fazalbhoy, Criminal Justice major, shared that one of the most rewarding parts of her time at CSULB was the opportunity to serve her community volunteering for Orange County’s Rape Crisis Center for over a year. “I fell in love with wanting to help and assist those in need more and more. Volunteering also helped me determine where exactly my strengths and interests lie. Majoring in Criminal Justice and attending all of the CRJU courses at CSULB enhanced my skills in working toward my future goals and aspirations.” With the arrival of the pandemic, she attributes her success in virtual learning to her professors, who she says were able to provide a quality education despite the challenges that arose. “I thank the professors who stepped up when the world was extremely chaotic. That helped me gather myself together and be optimistic and hopeful that it was going to be okay,” said Fazalbhoy.
Her dedication to a career in health and human services shines through in her work as a certified crisis counselor helping victims of sexual assault. “During the pandemic, I was able to help survivors, their loved ones, and people who wanted to help loved ones and needed guidance. My education and compassion have helped support me. Volunteering and community outreach helped provide the opportunity for me to utilize my education and skill set that I have toward them.”
Ryan Phong, Criminology and Criminal Justice
When B.S. in Criminal Justice graduate Ryan Phong came to CSULB as a first year student, he used the college’s network of student clubs and organizations to build community within his program and make connections that helped him feel supported throughout his academic career. “I came to CSULB with no friends or family to support me being a first-year university student. Somehow, by gathering the courage to overcome my fear of being alone or unsupported, I put myself out there and gained new friends.” Since his first year, he has held leadership positions as the CHHS Senator for Associated Students Inc. (ASI), working with students, faculty council and Dean Lounsbery to bridge the connection between students, faculty and staff among the college. Within the Criminal Justice program he has interned at the CSULB Police Department, working to improve the emergency management on campus. After graduation, he will be starting a graduate program in Public Administration at the University of Southern California.
Priscilla Gomez, Criminology and Criminal Justice
Many students took the racially charged events of last year to stand up against racism by advocating for social justice and participating in peaceful protests. “I believe that it is our civic duty to protest unfair and unequal treatment and that standing together we can be heard and taken more seriously,” said Criminology and Criminal Justice major Priscilla Gomez. Within her program she maximized her academic success by joining Alpha Phi Sigma, as well as interning at the Long Beach City Managers Office at The Citizen Police Complaint Commission (CPCC).