Grad Profile: Katelyn Hernandez

Katelyn Hernandez is a 2021 graduate from Philomath, Oregon. She has a Bachelors of Science in Criminal Justice and is currently earning a Masters of Art in Criminal Justice, along with a minor in Youth Crime Studies.


Where did you transfer from and what has the experience been like?

I was a transfer student from Linn Benton Community College in 2017 after getting my associate’s transfer degree, so I did the last two years for my bachelor’s degree at WOU before doing my master’s degree at WOU as well. I kind of wish I went to WOU fully for my bachelor’s, because I feel like I would [have] gotten to know people a little better, and I could [have become] closer with those that were working on their CJ degree as well. However, going to LBCC was easier for me, because it was closer to where I lived, and also I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do, so LBCC kind of [helped me] figure out I wanted a career in the CJ field. 


What has been your most memorable class? 

My most memorable class was CJ 310 (Report Writing). It was the most memorable because we were able to go to the police academy and watch [the scenarios], and then we had to write a “police report” of the crime that we saw while we were there. We also got to come up with a criminal and crime as another project and write a report on that as well. 


Student holding and hugging her small dog and smiling from a side angle.
Katelyn Hernandez

What have some of your extracurriculars been? How did those impact your time on campus?

I have worked two jobs my whole time here at WOU while being a full time student. The jobs have changed a couple of times, though. For my practicum, I worked with Benton County court appointed special advocate (CASA). As a graduate assistant, I worked on various projects such as working with [the] Salem Police Department on their interview panel to interview candidates for an entry level police officer; [researching] projects on shame, prison labor, and intergenerational incarceration ([I’m] actually working on a paper with faculty on this topic that we are submitting to a journal); I did guest lectures in a couple lower level CJ classes on trauma and classification of inmates/solitary confinement; [participating in] the Corvallis Citizens Police Academy; [and I] gathered information for students on jobs that you can get with a CJ degree.

All these projects and extracurricular activities have helped me in their own ways to prepare [for] the future.


Do you have any advice for current and prospective students? 

My advice would be [to not] stress if your plan changes or you aren’t sure what you want to do. Things happen for a reason, and things will figure themselves out when the time is right. Also, live in the moment and be happy.


What has been the highlight of your time at WOU? 

Becoming a graduate assistant with the Criminal Justice division. I was able to work on numerous projects that all have helped [me] to gain knowledge in different ways that I can use going forward into the CJ field. 


Who stands out from your time at WOU and why?

All the CJ faculty stand out for me. They are such amazing people who really care about the students. They encouraged me to get my master’s degree, and [they] also wanted my time as a graduate assistant to be worthwhile. They let me work on project ideas that I came up with, and wanted me to only take on projects that I felt passionate about. They also nominated me for the Outstanding Graduate Student award, which I am so grateful for receiving, but for them to even think of me for that award is enough for me. They have also helped shape me into the person I am today, and I will take everything they have taught me into my future jobs. 


What do you love most about the major/minors you completed?

The thing I love the most about my major/minor is that I am able to help people who are probably at one of their lowest points in life, and I can try to help them turn their life around. I am also able to potentially understand how they got to this point, and help them learn from the past. Plus, I feel like the world needs positive, kind, empathetic, and genuine people in the criminal justice system, and I think that I can bring all those to the table. 


What has been your biggest achievement in college?

My biggest achievement would be being accepted as a graduate assistant and then receiving the Outstanding Graduate Student award. 


What are your plans for after graduation? 

I currently have no set plans once I graduate. I am in the process of trying to work for DHS Child Welfare. If that doesn’t work out, I will keep looking for any openings with DHS, as a probation officer, or administrative position in a jail or prison. I want to be [more on the] rehabilitative side of the criminal justice system, so really I would take any job that falls under that. A dream job of mine is being a warden for a prison or helping women get out of sex trafficing. I would also love to teach criminal justice, as well, after getting some experience in the field. 

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