I wrote my thesis on prison resident responses to inconsistent rule adherence by Correctional Officers. More specifically, I used a qualitative approach to analyze whether inconsistent adherence to rules led to resident use of innovative tactics to get their needs met, or learned helplessness.
I chose the CLS MA/PhD program at Mason both for Mason’s location and for the professors within the CLS department. I am currently enrolled in the PhD program, but earned my MA along the way, which also contributed a lot to my decision to come to Mason. The opportunity to work towards my end goal of a PhD while earning my MA in the process felt like an amazing opportunity. Additionally, George Mason is ideally located, being so close to D.C., especially for a policy-oriented program like CLS. The proximity and relationships that are bound to come with such proximity proved ideal for work- and learning opportunities. Similarly, the professors within the GMU CLS department all come from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences, and I was really excited to get the opportunity to work with and learn from so many prominent people in the field of criminology.
The most rewarding experience during the program was being able to go collect data within prisons. It provided a great opportunity to learn data-collection methods and nuances, while at the same time illuminating a part of what we research that is not always accessible. It provided me with better insights as to how things work in such a prominent criminal-legal setting that can further inform my research.
I think my academic experiences at Mason, and particularly within CLS, have helped me grow both intellectually and personally. I have learned so much while at Mason, both from my professors and fellow students. My experiences so far have put me in classrooms and on projects with many different people from different walks of life, but all with the goal of advancing knowledge and infusing this knowledge into practice. I think that collaborating with different people on different projects has provided me with new and different perspectives that I can now take with me to any future endeavors. I feel very privileged to be working with and learning from such brilliant minds.
The best advice I think I can give an incoming cohort of graduate students is to not be afraid to ask for what you want or need and to remember that your cohort/fellow students can be some of the best resources and support you could ever get. I am very glad that I have been able to rely on my cohort for collaborations, support, and general friendship. Also, faculty, staff, and students within the CLS department are very focused on making sure that you are able to achieve your goals.
I am currently finishing up classes and working on my dissertation proposal in the CLS PhD program. I also work as a graduate research assistant, mainly focused on research within the pretrial period.