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Houston is home to a quality criminal justice system with many of our criminal justice and security professionals trained within the city limits. This gives them a unique perspective on their jobs and how best to carry them out in local jurisdictions.
Dr. Judith Harris discusses her education in criminal justice that has led to her giving back to the next generation as a professor.
What degree program did you study?
“I earned a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in criminal justice at the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD), and a doctorate in the administration of justice at Texas Southern University.”
What does your current position entail?
“I am a professor of criminal justice at UHD and teach students in face-to-face classes, as well as in hybrid and online classes, on occasion. I have a hands-on, interactive teaching style, which is shared throughout the department, and allows students to see, touch, hear and experience the impact that crime has in our society and in our lives.”
Do you feel your education prepared you for your current role?
“Absolutely. UHD groomed me to be who I am in the classroom. Many of my previous professors now are my colleagues. The University’s College of Public Service provides a wonderful, broad spectrum of learning from professors with backgrounds in every sector of criminal justice, including law, law enforcement and corrections. My bachelor’s degree prepared me for my initial job as a pre-trial officer for Harris County, in which I interacted with recently charged defendants, and my master’s and doctoral degrees prepared me to become an effective professor of aspiring criminal justice professionals.”
Have you participated in any form of continuing education since beginning this position?
“I completed my master’s degree while working full-time as a pre-trial officer, and then began pursuing my doctorate full-time once I realized that I wanted to devote my career to higher education.”
Do you have any advice for people who would be interested in pursuing a similar career?
“I believe it is important for aspiring criminal justice professionals to be entirely committed to the field, passionate about justice and highly goal-oriented. CJ professionals must be well versed in both the policies and practical side of the field and be willing to become entirely immersed in their discipline. I also encourage my students to earn graduate degrees in criminal justice, if possible, as advanced education opens even more doors of opportunity in the field.”
Gillian Kruse is a freelance writer living in Houston. She graduated from Rice University with a great love for all performing and visual arts. She enjoys writing about arts and cultural events, especially little-known ones, to help Houstonians learn about what’s going on in their city. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.