Human Biology Senior (ITP Criminology Pre-Grad) Gloria Gonzalez
I took the IE Pre-Grad Internships as a Capstone class for Texas IP. Initially, when I entered this class I was a bit confused on how I was going to manage to incorporate my minor which is Forensics: Criminal Psychology into a self-paced class that I felt had no direction. I contacted my mentor, Dr. Stafford, and meet with him to show him my proposal for the semester. In the beginning, I had a high demanding project. It consisted of going to jails and interviewing criminals to find out what their perceived motives for committing their crimes were. I then wished to review any rehabilitation programs that were implemented and determine if they actually targeted criminals' problems. If not I was interested in finding a way to change them to make them beneficial to the delinquents. However, in my first encounter with Dr. Stafford, I found out that this project would be close to impossible to pursue for many different reasons. For one, I am a senior and time would not allocate the project. Secondly, the paper work that was required by the University of Texas alone to enter a jail facility was enormous let alone the long tedious process the jail facilities had. This again would not be feasible with the time I had to do the project. Finally, we determined that the information that the criminals would actually give would probably be false. In addition, to ask a criminal why they committed the crime they did and expect them to know why they did so was a problem in itself and would most likely have no true meaning. Therefore, with the help of Dr. Stafford, I chose to do a literature research that consisted of some prior work that he had conducted. The research was on techniques of neutralization. My goal was to figure out exactly what techniques of neutralizations were. After do so I was to search and find different situations where people applied them. Finally, I was to evaluate Dr. Stafford disciplinary perspective, one based on sociological views, and compare it to another discipline, in my case I used psychology, and show how it approaches my topic from its perspective and with its own methods. Since Dr. Stafford was very knowledgeable about this topic, he was able to give me some examples of techniques of neutralization and also was able to refer me to some books and other literature work that would assist me in better understanding his disciplinary perspective.
In our first class meeting, I was a bit comforted to know that this class was a journey that's success is determined by the amount of effort I put into it. I learned that a class like this would teach me important factors that I would need to know to be successful, not only in this class, but also in life. I would have to pace myself and determine exactly what I wanted to gain from this class. I know that for many, this class was a way to get a preview of graduate school or gain more knowledge of graduate student's research. However, this class was different for me.
Currently, I am trying to pursue a career in the health field. I am interested in being a forensic pathologist. This class gave me an insight into the non biological aspect of a forensic pathologist. However, I hoped to gain a lot from this class besides the academia aspect. Leaving he first class meeting, I was contemplating how I was going to gain the most from this class. I figured that I had to do lots of independent research, independent guidance, and learn to be more self disciplined if I wanted to gain the most from this class. Of course, I had a mentor; however, most of my research was completed independently. I did meet with my mentor about two or three times. Though we did not meet on a regular basis, my mentor allowed me to notice and determine that as a graduate student and a researcher, one must propose an idea and learn to work around it. For example, my initial research was to go to jails, however, after discussing my ideas with my mentor I had to learn to reevaluate my goals and change them around to carry out a more feasible project. I learned to be flexible with my goals by changing my initial proposal from a field research to literature research. I also had to learn to pace myself in doing my independent research. After all, I was not going to have that constant guidance and pressure from any professor to be self sufficient.
After going to the second meeting, I was able to learn a bit more about myself. During this class my initial opinion about research, which was having to be self motivated, was asserted by the graduate professor panel. At first, I thought that this class meeting would not be of any interest to me since I did not want to go to graduate school; however, I learned some very important information about graduate school that I am able to transfer to my own situation. As mentioned above, I am trying to go to medical school and not graduate school. I learned that it is wise and normal to take time out of school. First of all, some people get drained out from constantly going to school, so taking time out allow one not to get so drained with school. Secondly, and most importantly, taking time out of school is fine because it allow one to gain an insight on oneself.
This is a process of figuring out what one really wants to do with their life and how they want to pursue. For my self, I think that this is important because I feel that I am in a stage of stress and confusion. I feel as if I know what I want to do, but I am still at limbo of exactly what to do. I previously mentioned that I want to be a forensics pathologist, but there comes a point where one has to be sure that the career path that one chooses is truly the one that they want to pursue. In our second class meeting the professors really did emphasis this point. This emphasis allowed me to feel comfortable about taking a year off. They were able to address that taking time off is common for a majority of individuals. They even briefly threw out statistics quoting that the average entering age for graduate students in the English department was higher then usual. I will not quote them because I am not sure exactly the number that they mentioned.
In conclusion, I must state a few other things that I gained from this class and my mentor that I felt were very important. After interviewing my mentor and gaining insight on how he got to the stage of life he is at now I was able to learn an important concept from him. He stated that one must pick something they are passionate about and follow it. As a sociologist, he was passionate about learning about deviance of juveniles and deterrence programs. He decided to pursue it because he was truly interested in it. After putting his leg in the door of the field of sociology, Dr. Stafford was able to attain all of his other achievements, encounters and research projects because he felt passionate about the filed of study. Consequently, other projects sort of just fell into his lap. For myself, I think that following something that one feels passionate about is the only way to truly be happy in their career choice. Personally, I feel passionate about helping people in the health field, and that's why I can not imagine how I could pursue a dream without doing just that. I feel like that is what I want to do, but for me the question is about what area in the health field I want to choose as a career.
Another thing I learned in this class was that taking time out of school to figure out what I want to do is perfectly fine. In fact, I am currently searching for a job in research to see if that area of study is something that I may consider to pursue. However, I do strongly believe that I will apply to medical school within three years. I also gained the experience of being self sufficient and knowledge of how criminals justify the crimes that they commit. I think that even though sometimes we may think that criminals reasoning's for committing crime are not important, researchers find their reasoning interesting because many of them use techniques of neutralization to justify their crimes. Having learned many beneficial things from taking this class, I would highly recommend it to others. This class is not just any class, but it is a class that has allowed me to realize a lot about myself. It has also forced me to reevaluate my goals and figure out what I really to do with my life.