Criminal Justice Club Returns / Evan Espinoza

Once upon a time, the AJU (Administration of Justice) department at Mississippi College had its own criminal justice club full of eager young men and women looking to stay involved in their field of study and future career path. However, there was a point when the club’s activity began to diminish, and a global pandemic did not necessarily keep the club afloat. This year, the club finally got a much-needed revival, and it has been brought back to life thanks to the help of a few new eager students and professors.

Dr. Godfrey Garner is one of the many people responsible for helping the club get back on its feet and oversees and caters to it from the outlook of a faculty member. “We just got together with the students who want to be involved and had them elect three officers,” said Garner. The club elected students into the office of president (Yanez Newsome), vice president (James Pierce), and secretary/treasurer (Catherine Bell). 

“The club primarily exists as a social club to raise awareness and fundraise, as well as a networking tool,” explained Garner. “The students will put on events like a barbecue and career day, and raise money to go to the Criminal Justice Student Association conference.” 

Garner and Dr. Harry Porter (head of the AJU department) have been integral in helping the students navigate the ins and outs of running the club. Garner hopes that the club can this time sustain itself under the leadership of the new officers and participating members. “At a point the club won’t need me or Dr. Porter to tell them to do this or that,” said Garner. “The members will take most of everything upon themselves and it will be more self-perpetuating.”

Garner’s hope that the members will take on full responsibility of the club might just come true sooner rather than later under Yanez Newsome’s leadership, alongside fellow officers James Pierce and Catherine Bell. All three of them have worked together and with others to make the events happen and create opportunities for the club. 

“Our first big project is setting up the career day, which is on April 22,” commented Pierce on current goals of the club. “We’ve been contacting a bunch of different agencies and had [many confirmations] so we’re excited about that.” 

Currently the club is focusing on growth, and the officers hope to have a majority of students in the AJU department become club members as well. The officers also highlighted the importance of networking within the club and its usefulness for future careers. 

“It’s a great way for our AJU department members to get involved,” said Bell. “They get to learn more about it [the department] and further their careers in the future. Outside members will also get to come to our events and get a feel for what the department is like.” 

The officers and other members of the club are able to benefit greatly from the club’s social aspects by bringing awareness to one of MC’s smaller departments in AJU, as well as use it as a means to establish connections with other students and agencies in the vast world of criminal justice. 

All three officers agreed that one of the best parts of the club was its ability to bring students together. “Connections are very important [within AJU],” said Newsome. “Say myself, James [Pierce], and Catherine [Bell] all go to different agencies. We still have those bonds and relationships to be able to reach out to each other in our future careers.”

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