Graduate Students

 Criminal Justice Graduate Student Organization

Spring 2022 Officers

President: Rene Rodriguez - potatoe@nmsu.edu
Vice President: Taylor Gonzalestgonza99@nmsu.edu
Treasurer: Katia Vargas de la Cruz - katia26@nmsu.edu
Secretary: Odelle Duffy - oduffy@nmsu.edu
Executive Counselor: McKensi Spearsmspears0@nmsu.edu

 

 

President

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President: Rene Rodriguez

Program: MCJ

Expected Graduation Date: May 2023

Email: potatoe@nmsu.edu

 

A short background: I grew up in a small agricultural town about 40 minutes North of Las Cruces. I was raised by a teacher so I knew growing up that going to college would be my end goal. I focused on academics throughout my time in school in hopes that I could earn my way into a college and have them pay for it. Thankfully, I was accepted into NMSU. After spending four years here, in May 2021, I graduated with bachelor’s degrees in psychology and criminal justice with a minor in forensic science. Wanting to continue my education, I applied and was accepted into NMSU’s Masters of Criminal Justice program and that is where I find myself now! Currently, I work with the department as a Teaching Assistant and am also a member of Alpha Phi Sigma, which is a Criminal Justice Honor Society. In short, I love learning and being involved in school!

 

What your current schoolwork is: I am currently in my second semester of graduate school and my hope is that I can complete a thesis so that I can continue onto a criminal justice doctoral program.

 

Why did you choose NMSU? My mother, who I love very much and look up to, attended NMSU not only for her undergraduate but also as a graduate. Seeing this when I was younger inspired me to choose NMSU as well! And in all honesty, since my family is only 30 minutes away, I did not want to move too far from them so NMSU was the perfect school for me.

 

Vice President

 

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Name: Taylor Gonzales

Program: MCJ

Expected Graduation Date: December 2022

Email: tgonza99@nmsu.edu

 

Background: I am originally from Albuquerque, but I have lived in Las Cruces for five years while I am completing my degrees. I graduated from NMSU in the spring of 2017 with a bachelor's in psychology and criminal justice and continued my education here as a graduate student. I am serving as the Vice President of the Criminal Justice Graduate Student Organization. Additionally, I am a Teaching Assistant within the department, as well as an active member of Alpha Phi Sigma Criminal Justice Honor Society.

 

Current Schoolwork: I am in my second semester of graduate school and will be pursuing a thesis option. My main focus is drug courts and program graduation rates. 

 

Why I Chose NMSU: I chose to attend college three hours south of my hometown because I wanted to pursue a criminal justice degree, while UNM only offers a criminology degree. I fell in love with the campus and atmosphere when I visited as a high school senior. I have enjoyed every moment and opportunity that Las Cruces and NMSU have brought to me.

  

Treasurer
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Katia V. De La Vegas

Program: MCJ- MPA

Expected Graduation: Spring 2022

Email: katia26@nmsu.edu

Background:

I graduated from New Mexico University in spring 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and minors in Forensic science as well as psychology. I am currently the vice-president of activities for the Graduate Student Council, member of Alpha Phi Sigma Criminal Justice Honor Society, and treasurer for the Criminal Justice Graduate Student Organization.  I am also employed in the criminal justice and government department as a Graduate Assistant. On my free time, I love doing outdoor activities, reading, travel, hiking, and spending time with my friends and family.

Current Work:

I am a first-year graduate student and I would like to complete the coursework option for my Master. I will be graduating in Spring 2022 with two master’s in criminal justice and public administration, and a minor in Security Studies. I will get to graduate two semesters early as a result of participating in the Master Accelerated Program (MAP).

Why NMSU?

When I immigrated to the United States, I felt Las Cruces New Mexico helped to open the doors for me to improve and grow while also allowing me to achieve my goals. I chose NMSU because I had an amazing experience as an undergraduate student.  The faculty at this institution always focuses on supporting and encouraging students toward success. NMSU helps me believe in myself and to grow professionally. I had the opportunity to be part of many organizations within NMSU through which I was able to help my community

 

Executive Counselor

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Name: McKensi Spears

Program(s): MCJ Program

Expected Graduation Date: December 2022

Email: mspears0@nmsu.edu

A short background: I graduated in December of 2021 with a double Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice and Psychology with a minor in Forensic Science. Currently, I am a Teaching Assistant within the Criminal Justice Department here at NMSU. When I am not working or going to class, I really enjoy spending time with my family, playing with my dog, and enjoying time outdoors.

What your current schoolwork is: I am a first year (first semester) graduate student and have chosen to pursue the coursework option to obtain my degree. Through participation in the Master’s Accelerated Program (MAP), I will be graduating early in December of 2022 with my Master’s degree.

Why did you choose NMSU?

I initially chose NMSU because my grandad, mom, and sister all graduated from here, in hopes of carrying on the tradition of becoming an Aggie. After time, it has grown into so much more. I am so proud and thankful to be an Aggie as I have been able to accomplish so much, with great thanks to the professors and faculty. NMSU has given me so many great opportunities and has allowed me to pursue the career I want to have in my future.

 

Secretary

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Name: Odelle Duffy

Program(s): Masters of Criminal Justice Program

Expected Graduation Date: May 2023

Email: oduffy@nmsu.edu

A short background about you: I am from Silver City, NM which is a pretty small town about 2 hours from Las Cruces. In May 2020, I graduated from NMSU with my bachelor’s in criminal justice with minors in forensic science, English, and psychology. Currently, I am continuing my education at NMSU as a graduate student. Alongside my role in GSO, I am a Teaching Assistant within the department and the treasurer for Alpha Phi Sigma Criminal Justice Honor Society. My passion is criminal justice and I love learning about it (especially true crime podcasts!)

What your current schoolwork is: I am in my second semester of graduate school and I am pursuing the thesis option. 

Why did you choose NMSU? When I first came to NMSU, I chose it because it was close to home but still far enough away. I also fell in love with the campus and lived there all of my undergrad years! When I graduated with my bachelor's, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue my education or work in the criminal justice field instead. But in the end, my love for learning outweighed everything else. NMSU provides an amazing learning environment and I couldn’t picture myself anywhere else! 

 

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Graduate Student Erika Ochoa presented her thesis research on the Social Disorganization Theory and the College Campus Periphery at the SWACJ conference in San Antonio, TX

 

Graduate Student Adriana Chavez presented her thesis research on The El Paso/Juarez Prison Gang / Bario Azteca at the SWACJ conference in San Antonio, TX