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Viking Spotlight: Connor Antony '20, Criminal Justice

Connor Antony '20
Major: Criminal justice
Hometown: Salem, MA
Campus Involvement: National Criminal Justice Honor Society (Alpha Phi Sigma), Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society

What attracted you to Salem State's criminal justice program?

I've lived in Salem my entire life, providing an abundance of exposure to Salem State facilities for recreation and academics. As a child, I regularly visited the O'Keefe Center's swimming pool with the Boys & Girls Club summer camp program. In my last year of high school, I partook in a dual enrollment astronomy class in Meier Hall to receive college credits before even beginning freshman year. Salem State was always familiar and welcoming to me, so I figured that the criminal justice program wouldn't be any different.

How did you know that this was the right program for you?

From the very beginning, my professors were very forthcoming about various issues plaguing our country's justice system. Without being heavy-handed, in one direction or another, I was provided ample opportunities to come to conclusions and share my own findings on subject matter that others might shy away from.

Why did you choose a 4+1 program over a traditional 4-year degree? 

I'm very impatient. However, when first presented with the opportunity to achieve two degrees at a discounted rate, I was taken aback, as I'd never even considered a master's degree.

Over time, I realized the difficulty and importance of standing out in a job search against other applicants. One of the best ways to separate yourself from other highly qualified candidates is to pursue your education further.

What has been your favorite criminal justice class? What made it so special?

Theories of Crime (800A) with Professor Jeb Booth was unlike any other class I've taken to this point. At 22 years old, I understand the general gist of what an academic setting has to offer — or at least, I thought I did.

Abandoning any adherence to daily agendas and PowerPoint presentations, Professor Booth regularly encouraged students to step out of their comfort zone. With various elements of predictability (which we've come to expect) removed from the once-familiar classroom experience, my classmates and I had to adapt. He is confident in his methods, which is something I have to applaud.

What are the student-faculty relationships like?

Relationships with faculty can be as close as you allow them to be. I've seen students that regularly head out as soon as classes are dismissed, while others will stand around and chat with their instructor for 10-20 minutes. Regardless of where you see yourself falling in, they are typically readily available and always want to see you to succeed.

What do you think about the size of your classes?

I find the classroom sizes to be sizable, at times, while also remaining familiar enough that I don't feel uncomfortable in raising my hand to share with the class. At this point, I'm aware of each of the people I share the room with, while also being delighted to a fresh face every once in a while.

Have you had any assignments or projects that you felt were especially helpful to you in learning more about criminal justice and how it can be applied in everyday life and your career?

I've had several research-heavy projects that spanned the entire semester, culminating in 10+ page essays and associated presentations in front of the class. Having these opportunities to embark on a further exploration into more directed research topics is key to demonstrating interest and command over the course materials. 

What opportunities have you had beyond the classroom apply you've learned in class?

Opting out of the capstone option, I chose to apply for internships to conclude my undergraduate degree. This resulted in my internship with the often-overlooked federal law enforcement branch of the Post Office, the United States Postal Inspection Service.

Garnering invaluable experience through the observation of highly efficient and accurate police work, the USPIS provided a wealth of opportunities for me to become more intimately aware of our justice system's many intricacies. I've also recently begun a graduate assistantship through the Shannon CSI Grant, allowing me to work alongside my favorite professor at Salem State.

What surprised you the most about the criminal justice program at Salem State?

The criminal justice system is dangerous, daunting, and at times heartbreaking. Students are given ample opportunities to experience this wide range of emotions.

From classes like Victimology (CRJ 230), where crime scene photos aren't nearly as haunting as the stories behind them; to Police and Society (CRJ 330), where real-life dashcam and bystander footage leads to class discussions that feel as important as the marches and protests that followed the incidents captured on camera.

What would you like to do with your degree following graduation?

There are so many milestones in the long, storied history of the American criminal justice system. From landmark cases to prolific serial offenders, this field has more than its fair share of excitement. In the future, I want to be a part of the next big piece of pivotal progress. The criminal justice system is overburdened with systems, practices, and policies that have no place in our world.

A personal idol of mine best summarizes my post-graduation mentality:

"I'm not saying I'm gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world." - Tupac Shakur

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