Cultivating Lasting Connections
Sometimes your professors know you better than you know yourself. Take Kelsey Harrington ’16 ’18M for example. As an undergraduate student, she was on track towards becoming a forensic psychologist until a professor challenged her to investigate further into criminal justice careers. Because of the close relationship formed with her professor, the alum came to realize that victim services is her true path and passion. This faculty mentorship, along with the interdisciplinary nature of a Roger Williams education, allowed her to combine her two areas of study, then continue on to get her master’s degree at RWU and find a fulfilling career path.
“The criminal justice department itself is so accepting and just really want their students to succeed and that’s definitely one of the reasons I stuck around,” Harrington said. “It helped me realize the population I like to specialize in is victims, which I think is a field you don’t typically get to study in criminal justice programs.”
Because the School of Justice Studies boasts small class sizes, Harrington was able to develop relationships with each of her professors. This allowed them to not only get to know her on an academic level but on a personal basis as well. Harrington’s professors each took her interests into account to help guide her towards a job after graduation.
Connections with professors Dr. Yolando Leott, who got Harrington looking into victim services, Dr. Melissa Russano, who assisted her through her master’s thesis and Dr. Sean Varano, who always challenged her inside the classroom, were central to her success.
When Varano came across a job listing for a Victim Compensation Manager at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office, he knew Harrington would be perfect for the role, and sent her the post.
“Dr. Verano sent me this posting and I remember I read it and freaked out for a minute, thinking ‘I can’t get a job now.’ But it ended up working out amazingly,” said Harrington. “I finished out the last year of my master’s while working here. Which was something I didn’t expect to be doing at all and I couldn’t be more thankful for that connection because this job certainly wasn’t on my radar.”
Now, she’s in constant communication with victims to guide them through the complexities of the criminal justice system and loves every moment when she makes a victim feel comforted and listened to. Harrington enjoys the daily challenge of working in the Attorney General’s office and aims to continue working with victims, in hopes that one day she’ll impact an even larger population.