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Alumni Spotlight


Each month we will be highlighting an EKU Alum who has gone on to do some pretty impressive work. Please take a minute to see what our exceptional graduates are up to after their time at EKU.

Photo of Narissa Haakmat











November Spotlight: 

Graduate Program: Criminology & Criminal Justice
Graduation Year: 2020

I am currently a second-year criminal justice Doctoral student at Old Dominion University. My research interests include the experiences of incarcerated parents, programming and policies for incarcerated parents, reentry, and qualitative methods. I am currently teaching The Criminal Justice System and I'm scheduled to teach Parole, Probation, and Community Corrections starting in summer 2023.   

During my time at Eastern Kentucky University, I was able to home in on my research interests and develop valuable research skills. Having faculty that are actively doing research and publishing in the field gave me the opportunity to be a part of projects that helped shape my research agenda. Additionally, being in a department that offers its students the opportunity to attend and present at national conferences, gave me the opportunity to learn more about the latest research that is being conducted in the field and connect with other scholars whose work has inspired my own.  

Photo of Rebecca Schwendau

October Spotlight: 

Graduate Program: Criminology & Criminal Justice
Graduation Year: 2021

I’m an Eternal Colonel through and through! I graduated with my B.S. in Criminal Justice and French in 2019, and quickly followed with my M.S. in Criminology and Criminal Justice in 2021. I currently work for the FBI as an Evidence Control Technician or ECT, the FBI loves their acronyms! My basic job duties include but are not limited to: responsible for the receipt, retention and disposition of evidence for the field office, providing guidance to Special Agents (SAs) on all aspects of evidence processing such as packaging and proper paperwork, and responsible for the security aspects of the Evidence Control Room (ECR) including safe combinations and secure areas, and personnel traffic to and from ECR locations. I work in an office in a normal 8-5 environment and while it seems intimidating going through the process, it’s the best work environment. 

EKU’s Criminology and Criminal Justice Master’s program was one of the best environments I have ever been privy to. Not only are professors there to see and help you succeed, but the smaller class sizes provide an environment that facilitates friendship with colleagues – something so underrated in academia. Classes are built to introduce differing topics with varying views in order to decide the direction of your thesis, if that is the track chosen. Professors guide you every step of the way and will take time to walk through difficult tasks and explain further. This helped me immensely with my career goals in more ways than having the extra degree. Class sizes and relationships created developed the critical conversation skills needed in concerns to government positions; how to ask the hard questions and understand underlying implications behind the information given. My degree gave me a better understanding on the sociological aspects of government workings, and I never fully planned on being where I am now.

Rossana Diaz Image











September Spotlight: 

Graduate Program: Criminology & Criminal Justice
Graduation Year: 2019

Rossana Diaz, originally from Temuco, Chile, graduated in 2019 with a Masters of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Sociology and teaching at the undergraduate level at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee. The courses she taught varied throughout the semesters between Social Movements (SOCI 345), Criminology (SOCI 350), and Social Justice and Social Problems (SOCI 110)TN. Diaz’s two main areas of research are Race, Ethnicity, and Criminology. She is primarily interested in how race relations are produced and reproduced in the Americas regarding class, political relationships, and culture.

Regarding her time at EKU, she fondly remembers the guidance and instruction from the faculty and staff. Her professors at EKU made sure she was well-prepared for a Ph.D. program (as it was her goal), and the content, resources, and guidance they provided allowed her to thrive in her program today. She came to EKU knowing she wanted to teach in college eventually, so one of the things she was able to do as a student was to advocate for herself to get pedagogical training. The results of this were the opportunities she was given to guest lecture in classes and the pedagogical courses developed for students. She always thought back on those instances as formative for her career as a current instructor and future professor. The faculty at EKU always seemed attentive to both student's academic needs and their career goals in the medium and long term. As a future professor she is expecting to use the experience she had with the faculty at EKU as a reference on the kind of mentor she wanta to be, in hopes to guide and provide similar opportunities to her students.

photo of Julia Mullins








August Spotlight: 


Graduate Program: Criminology & Criminal Justice
Graduation Year: 2022

Julia Mullins, a 2021 graduate of the MS in Criminology and Criminal Justice program, is a case management specialist for Blue Grass Community Action, serving Central and Eastern Kentucky. She specializes in substance use recovery and housing. Julia has expertise in substance use and mental health recovery, the criminal justice system, and harm reduction approaches. Julia is an advocate in her rural community for persons with substance use disorders, specifically focusing on barriers for persons experiencing homelessness. Julia’s passions include promoting awareness and support for mothers and families in recovery from substance use, expanding harm reduction, and supporting trauma healing. She is dedicated to breaking the stigma associated with substance use and recovery and committed to helping her recovery community evolve through a person-centered lens. 

Julia is the program coordinator for the Coordinated System for Treatment and Services project, a research collaboration through Community Action agencies and SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency). The CSTS project seeks to expand and strengthen treatment services for persons who are homeless, including chronically homeless individuals and families, who also have substance use disorders (SUD) or co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders (COD). Julia works in the field with persons experiencing homelessness, addressing the disproportionate barriers this population faces. Julia has been featured in Opioid Response Network’s Whole-Person Care for People Experiencing Homelessness and Opioid Use Disorder toolkit. Julia is currently the project lead for the Inspire in the Blue Grass project, funded through the Appalachian Regional Commission. The project is aimed at examining the recovery ecosystem in rural Kentucky, analyzing the barriers for persons in recovery entering and reentering the workforce. 

During Julia’s time in the Master’s program in Criminology and Criminal Justice she found her passion for advocating for marginalized populations. Throughout her time as a graduate student, Julia discovered the value in applied anthropology, moving beyond theory into practical application to understand the human cost of the broader framework of socio-economic systems. Combining her love for Appalachia with her purpose of combating harms against persons with substance use disorders and persons trapped in the criminal justice system, Julia continues to utilize research, evidence-based practices, and field work to address the systemic harm of neoliberalism and mass incarceration. 

Albina Laskovtsov









This month's spotlight: 


Graduate Program: Criminology & Criminal Justice
Graduation Year: 2020

After graduating from Eastern Kentucky University’s Graduate program in Criminology and Criminal Justice in 2020, I decided not to skip a beat and continue on towards my PhD. I was accepted to University of South Carolina’s (UofSC) Doctoral Program in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology. My experience in the master’s program at EKU was the reason why I wanted to pursue a PhD in the first place. I learned what academic research looked like and exactly what it entailed—which was a lot of reading and writing! I found out I loved the work. By developing a thesis project as part of the degree completion requirement at EKU, I was drawn towards academic scholarship. I worked closely with my thesis advisor who doubled as an amazing mentor (Dr. Victoria Collins), who encouraged my endeavors and aspirations. Importantly, my thesis work at EKU inspired my dissertation subject at UofSC. 

I am currently working on a dissertation on the topic of image-based sexual abuse, or revenge pornography. I am also teaching undergraduate level criminal justice courses at UofSC, including American Criminal Justice System, Violence in America, and Victimization. Thankfully, I was given an opportunity to guest lecture on a couple occasions while at EKU, and it was this experience that helped me develop my teaching philosophy and inspire a future interest in pursuing academia. 

Published on July 05, 2022

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