Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts

Chanya Anderson

Chanya Anderson Headshot

Name: Chanya Anderson
Major: Criminology Minor: Sociology
Year: Senior
Hometown: Baltimore, MD
Campus Involvement: Vice-president of the Student Minority Advisory and Recruitment Team (S.M.A.R.T.), Student Ambassador for the Parents Program, Woman of Color Empowerment Group

From a very young age, I’ve known that I wanted to work in the criminal justice system. However, as I’ve gotten older I have seen the ways in which societal and environmental factors can influence our lives. I was able to use education as an escape from the poverty and violence that envelops Baltimore city, but I know many others who weren’t able to do the same. That is why I hope to use my education to help those who don’t have the resources to help themselves. My passion in life is fighting for the rights of marginalized populations. I dedicate time here at Penn State working as a tour guide for the Student Minority Advisory and Recruitment Team (S.M.A.R.T.) which aims to recruit and retain minority students here at Penn State. I spent Spring Break of 2018 in Atlanta, GA working with the International Rescue Committee, a non-governmental organization that offers emergency and long-term aid to refugees who have resettled in the United States. My fight for social justice has also taken me to LGBTQIA+ parades and marches, community events against gun violence, and volunteer events to help those who suffer from food and housing insecurities. My educational and career focus, however, has focused on another marginalized (and often forgotten) population: those who are or have been incarcerated. The millions of people in the United States who have been incarcerated or those who are currently incarcerated are often (and unjustly) stigmatized. Further, they face housing and income instabilities, fractured family and social ties, and a plethora of other problems that will undoubtedly complicate their reentry process making it that much harder to find success post-incarceration. This summer I was able to conduct research through the McNair Scholars Program with Dr. Derek Kreager to analyze the role that fatherhood may play in the reentry process for men with substance abuse issues. I hope to continue my research with incarcerated and recently released populations as I pursue a doctoral degree upon completion of my undergraduate studies.