Joyce Richardson’s path to a Keuka College degree began in 1983.
It will end Sunday, when the Stanley resident receives her Bachelor of Science degree in criminology/criminal justice.
And while it took the mother of two and grandmother of four nearly three decades to do what her classmates did in four years, she is the envy of some of her fellow members of the Class of 2012.
“A couple of weeks ago, I was offered a job as an investigator with the Ontario County Public Defender’s Office, where I completed my senior internship,” said Richardson. “That is what makes Keuka so great. Instead of a 20-minute job interview, I had the chance to have a four-month interview. I would not have gotten this job without my senior internship.”
Richardson’s duties will include assisting the senior investigator by working with crime scene technicians, witnessing victim and jail inmate interviews, locating clients, and completing legal research.
Her employer was no doubt impressed by her “stick-to-itiveness” and academic accomplishments. She received the Senior Criminology/Criminal Justice Award, and was inducted into Pi Gamma Mu (social science) Honor Society while earning a 4.0 GPA.
When Richardson began her studies at Keuka as a political science/history major in 1983, she was married with two small children.
“I was also working and attending school full-time, studying political science/history,” she said. “But the stress of those things added up and something had to give. So I left school.”
Four years later, she began classes at Finger Lakes Community College (FLCC), “but they don’t have a political science course of study, so I chose criminal justice. I love the legalities and intricacies of the law, like what makes a crime a crime, and what doesn’t. I enjoy analyzing and interpreting criminal behavior.”
A year later, Richardson went through a divorce.
“I needed to work and raise my kids, so I quit school again,” said Richardson. “I worked in corporate security for nine years and as a private investigator for seven years. But I wanted to better my professional self, so I decided that I really needed to return to school. I wanted a career, not just a job. Without a degree, that wouldn’t be possible for me.”
In 2010, Richardson earned her associate degree from FLCC, and in the fall of that year she returned to Keuka.
Richardson credits her background in criminal justice with helping her understand her classes better, “because I have the advantage of having the experience and knowledge of criminal justice issues in real life. In my roles in private investigating and corporate security, I had to know and understand the law because I had to work within its limits.”
She also credits her criminology/criminal justice classes with helping her understand the application of criminology politics and theories to what she has already experienced.
“My education has allowed me to extend beyond what I previously knew into an area I had not known had existed,” said Richardson. “I believe that the criminal justice program at Keuka is top-notch, and completing my Field Periods and senior internship allowed for real-world experiences and networking that would otherwise not be possible.”
She also gives high marks to her Keuka professors.
“My criminology/criminal justice instructors are extremely knowledgeable in the field, and they all have experience in criminal justice in some way,” said Richardson. “It was easy to find me on campus, as I always seemed to be in one of their offices, and they let me talk about anything class-related.”
According to Richardson, she “loved having discussions with [Associate Professor of Criminology/Criminal Justice] Regi Teasly, because there was a ‘clicking’ and understanding with her.
“[Assistant Professor of Criminology/Criminal Justice] Janine Bower taught me how to be a more professional woman in the sense of vocabulary and demeanor,” added Richardson. “[Professor of Criminology/Criminal Justice and Chair of the Division of Basic and Applied Social Sciences] Tom Tremer opened a lot of doors to me for Field Periods. He is really interesting to talk with, and he spent time as a probation officer.”
She also credits her husband, because “without his support and assistance, I couldn’t have finished my degree. He encouraged me, and made me believe I could earn my degree even while I questioned my ability to do so.”
Richardson says she “appreciates the value of an education and I’ve tried to impress that value upon my children. My son has a bachelor’s degree and my daughter recently graduated with her RN. I would like my daughter to earn her bachelor’s degree from Keuka, and I would like to pursue a master’s degree one day.”
Added Richardson: “I wouldn’t have changed a single class or a professor. I spent time getting to know each them and I believe we could be friends outside of the classroom. I am glad I chose Keuka – twice.”