Celebrating our 2023 Graduates

Exploring Criminal Justice Paths Helped Ph.D.-Bound Grad Find Passion for Research

By Melanie Thibeault
Jacob Balzarini

Jacob Balzarini ’22, M’23, who is graduating from the Criminal Justice 4+1 Master’s Program, plans to pursue his Ph.D. in Criminology.   

Discovering a Passion for Criminology: “In undergrad, I was unsure of what I wanted to do. I started off wanting to be a police officer. Then I took corrections and criminology courses and was exposed to all sectors of the criminal justice system, which helped me decide on a career path and find something I really love. I took a research methods class this past fall; doing research and finding a solution to a problem was really interesting. I will be happier pursuing my Ph.D. in criminology than going into police work. Ultimately, I want to become a professor and have an impact on my students like my professors have had on me at RWU.”  

Enlightening Internship Experience: “I was able to build relationships with professors. Professor Sean Varano helped me secure an internship with the New Bedford Police Department’s domestic violence unit. I was able to go into the court twice a week and see the everyday life of a police officer. That experience allowed me to learn if I wanted to pursue a career in police work.”  

Research Opportunities: “Professor Beck Strah set me up with a research project, which will be complete in September. It’s a joint program between Criminal Justice and the Law School. We’re working with a former judge and looking at how cognitive behavioral therapy is and isn’t working with people on parole – to see how CBT could be better implemented. Being a part of this project is really going to set me up for the work I’ll be doing with my Ph.D. I’m really grateful for this opportunity.”  

Balzarini is from Milford, Mass.  

Every spring, as Commencement nears, RWU spotlights members of the graduating class. Suggestions are welcome. Email: stories@rwu.edu 

Celebrating our 2023 Graduates