Why I Study Crime

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My mom originally came up with the idea for me to become a lawyer. She suggested it one night on the way home from one of my basketball practices in grade 10. I wanted to play basketball for the rest of my life, she wanted me to have a real plan. So she suggested that I be a lawyer because I have that “strong useless look about me”. If you don’t get that reference…go watch Pretty Woman.

Well shortly after that my research began. I knew becoming a lawyer meant that I had to go to university. I also knew that I wanted to explore the world a little bit and get away from home as quickly as I could, so I started looking at schools up and down the west coast of BC. Simon Fraser University, University of British Columbia, University of Victoria, Douglas College, College of the Fraser Valley, Capilano and Langara. My original plan was to study English because I liked to read and did fairly well in that particular course, so I figured that I could study in that area for four years before heading into law school.

From pretty much that night on, I made a concentrated effort to do well in school so that I could get into a “good school”.

I still wanted to play basketball so not only was I looking at schools with a great English program, I was looking at schools where I could go and play basketball. My search eventually took me down into the states. Specifically Washington, Michigan, Oregon, North Carolina, Louisiana and California. I even emailed a few of the head coaches to ask how I would get a spot on their teams. It was actually during this time that I found out about Criminology. I was very “meh” on the idea of studying English for four years, so when I found out about someone who majored in this thing called “Criminology” and found out it was the study of crime I was instantly seduced.

You see, I originally wanted to be a defense lawyer and already loved the idea of arguing controversial issues concerning the law and constitution, so when I looked into what a typical Crim program had in store for its students, Cupid shot me dead in the boob and I knew what I wanted to do.

Which immediately knocked off some of my choices for schools. Actually it left me with one school: Simon Fraser University. From then on, I worked hard with the intent on getting into SFU and majoring in Criminology.

In my grade 11 year I emailed the SFU basketball coach and found out there was virtually no chance of me getting onto the basketball team there. At the start of my grade 12 year, I emailed the SFU basketball and volleyball coaches to try and get myself onto a team, but again, that was a no go. It was disheartening, but at this point reality really started to sink in for me. It was doubtful that I was going to go past high school and play college sports unless I went to Thompson Rivers University or a college instead of a university. I also started to freak out about not being accepted into SFU at all. I mean, if I wasn’t good enough for their varsity teams, then was I good enough for their Crim program?

Long story short: I got into SFU. There was some drama and I moved 400+km away from home which was kind of traumatic for me, but I got into SFU and started on the road to becoming a lawyer.

The funny part is though, I didn’t even take a Criminology course my first semester. I wanted to be sure of my love for a subject that I’d never studied and decided to take four other courses: Linguistics, Sociology, Psychology and English. I loved English and hated the rest. Sociology was boring and I hated reading my text books. Psychology…I had a really bad prof and an even worse TA who led my tutorials. Linguistics would have been more amusing had it not been a three hour lecture Monday nights that started at 6:30pm and ended at 9:20pm.

My next semester I was about as attracted to Criminology as someone can be to a subject you study in school.

I blame my professor, Barry Cartwright. His teaching style was engaging, easy to follow along and even though I already knew I would love the study of Crime, he made it at least 100x better than I’d expected. I seriously have never taken so many notes in my life! I was so in love with what I was learning, I took as many notes as humanly possible in his class. Reading the text books was easy and I actually liked flipping open those over priced tomes and learning me a lil som som about crime.

And my passion grew from there. Not only did I learn about crime, but I fell in love with learning about legal systems. Then I fell in love with the Canadian Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedom. As my knowledge base grew, my passion for anything in the Crim department grew. Well except for Research Methods and anything involving research. That stuff can kiss my ass, but everything else is amazing. I will happily spend hours reading past case law just because that stuff is damn interesting.

I screwed up a long the way to getting my degree, but…I think that was what was best for me. I needed to fail and learn a lot of hard life lessons. It’s made me even more passionate about what I study, who I am and what I want to be whenever I decide to grow up. I know that eventually I will become a lawyer because I think that’s how I can make the biggest impact in the areas of aboriginal rights, youth justice and the political arena .

So why do I study Criminology?

Because it’s darn interesting and I have a morbid streak that loves reading about famous crimes around the world. There’s something delicious in delving into the deviant and…learning it. It’s one big episode of “When People Go Wrong” and weirdly it gives me hope for a better future.

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