Spring semester my freshman year, I was sitting in my Criminology 12 class with Professor Richard Felson, when Dr. Derek Kreager came in to speak about research he was conducting in the Criminal Justice Research Center. Dr. Kreager was seeking out a few undergraduate students to assist in research within the center. Looking to attend law school after Penn State, I was eager to jump at the opportunity to research in my field of interest, also, as an Economics major I was thrilled at the opportunity to immerse myself in research outside my major.
Over the past three years researching in the Criminal Justice Research Center, I have had the pleasure to clean, redact, and analyze audio transcripts depicting the lives of either currently incarcerated individuals or recently released individuals. I was also able to code those same transcripts for trends in behavior and life experiences, and from the data coded we were able to track the prevalence of certain experiences and characteristics, as well as construct a social support network for individuals.
I am so thankful for the opportunity to research within the Criminal Justice Research Center and am currently using some of the data to supplement my thesis, which focuses on the importance of reentry programs on reducing recidivism rates. Undergraduate research has been such a prominent part of my Penn State experience and I am so glad I took that step freshman year and applied to the Criminal Justice Research Center.