For graduate students at Curry College, the Capstone project is a signature culminating academic event which challenges each program cohort to carry out a community-based project applying their new advanced knowledge and skill. This spring, students in the Master of Arts in Criminal Justice (MACJ) 2021 cohort partnered with the Pawtucket Police Department (PPD) to conduct a community survey on public safety issues that matter most to local residents.
The community survey collaboration was spearheaded by Curry alum Detective Sergeant Carrie Hormanski ’10 MACJ ’13 of the PPD, who believes the Capstone experience provides Curry graduate students a unique learning opportunity. “I remember my cohort project and how valuable it was to be able to work with the Boston Police Department,” she says. “It’s one thing to talk and read about theory, but another altogether to actually do it.”
More than 400 residents and local business owners responded to the survey which gathered opinions on neighborhood concerns, crime issues, and satisfaction with the Pawtucket Police Department. In a recent virtual presentation to Pawtucket Police Chief Tina Goncalves, the MACJ students shared their findings, which showed a high level of support for the PPD.
“I was very impressed by their work and presentation,” adds Detective Sergeant Hormanski. “The results provided us with some great feedback about what concerns the residents and individuals who work in Pawtucket have and it also provided the Department some areas we can possibly improve upon.”
Timothy Chin ’20 MACJ ’21 believes the new skills he’s gained from the Capstone will serve him well, as he seeks to move forward into a career in IT security. “Researching writing, data analysis and evaluating the different patterns and statistics are some of the best new skills I will take away from this experience.”
Chin will be one of the first graduates of Curry’s 5th Year Master of Arts in Criminal Justice (MACJ) dual degree program. The new program allows undergraduates to gain a head start on earning a graduate degree by starting the curriculum during their senior year, saving on both time and tuition.
MACJ Program Director Adam Stearn also applauds the quality work led by the cohort, a group of roughly 30 students. “Our MACJ cohort represents a diversity of voices, backgrounds, and experiences. Most of our graduate students work full-time in law enforcement and are parents too. In a normal year, that can be challenging,” says Dr. Stearn, assistant professor of criminal justice. “Though compounded by a global pandemic, they’ve navigated and persevered. The work they have turned out is as strong as any of our past ten Capstone projects, and we’ve incredibly excited for what’s next for this group.”
Detective Sergeant Hormanski can attest to the success she’s realized as a result of her time and experiences in Curry’s undergraduate and graduate programs. “The skills I learned with statistics and crime mapping I still apply and use today. Without that foundation, I would not be where I am,” she says. “The connections I made with fellow cohort members is also invaluable. I have been able to contact several for help and assistance with work items and investigations.”