by Sheryl Marlar

The University of West Georgia was well represented recently at the annual conference of the Southern Criminal Justice Association (SCJA), held in New Orleans, La., where several graduate students showcased their unlimited potential by presenting their research.

SCJA is a professional association that serves criminal justice educators, researchers, practitioners and students who are committed to the development of criminal justice science and practice.

Group of criminology students at the SCJA conference

Comprised of members from southern states, the SCJA conference provides opportunities to access the most current research findings on a wide range of criminal justice related topics.

Second-year graduate student, Tyler McArthur, presented some of his initial findings from his forthcoming thesis on sex offenders and restorative justice.

“I received an expansive amount of positive feedback on the thesis I’ll be writing,” McArthur remarked. “I answered many questions and exchanged contact information with conference attendees. I am extremely grateful to present at such a prestigious conference.”

Erica Jackson, also a second year graduate student, presented her paper, co-authored with Dr. Anthony Vito and Dr. Ericka Wentz, assistant professors of criminology, on the importance of physical fitness.

Shajuana Thomas presented a poster on school shootings in the United States, based on a paper written with Vito.

The graduate students who presented garnered many positive reviews for their efforts. Special attention was given to Erica Jackson’s presentation, as conference attendees were impressed with her poise and delivery.

Sierra Bell, the only undergraduate who attended the conference, was enlightened after the trip as well.

“I met people who I believe I can reach out to later in my journey because of the professors I have had the privilege to learn under,” she remarked. “I feel as though I gained a stronger connection with my professors.”

“I’m ecstatic that these students saw this opportunity and went for it,” said Dr. Mai Naito, director of graduate studies for criminology. “They were able to see presentations by scholars while building community amongst themselves. I’m proud of their eagerness in learning more about the field of criminology and criminal justice as they begin their graduate education.”

Other students who attended the conference included Connor Bell, Cierra Oduka, Sergina Riboul and Koryn Valliere. They found new possibilities in their attendance of panels during the day and then in networking with faculty from other institutions in the evenings.

“One of the things I really enjoyed was the variety of panels offered,” said Oduka. “At times that was a bad thing, because there were so many interesting topics offered at the same time.”

Dr. Gavin Lee, assistant professor of criminology, has been attending these conferences for over 14 years.

“I have never seen such a wonderful group of students so willing to meet scholars and to listen to their research,” he concluded. “I hope UWG can continue to provide support for our great students to attend conferences in the future. They did us proud!”

Posted on November 14, 2017