Today@Sam Article

Commencement Spotlight: Kristina Block

May 13, 2024
SHSU Media Contact: Mikah Boyd

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By Kim Foster

Kristina Block
Scarborough, Maine

Doctor of Philosophy, Criminal Justice

As she neared the end of her time at Sam Houston State University, one College of Criminal Justice (SHSU CJ) doctoral student was able to see her work recognized in a way that few can boast. Kristina Block’s work quoted in the New York Times in an article focused on the tragic events that unfolded during a Super Bowl celebratory parade in Kansas City, Kansas earlier this year.

“I was surprised,” Block said. “I didn’t know it would be highlighted in the New York Times and am happy my work could have a real-world impact.”

Block’s work featured in the article is a snapshot of what she studied during her time at SHSU. However, she didn’t envision this as her career path when beginning her college journey.

“I was originally a physics major when I started college,” Block said. “It quickly became clear that physics wasn’t the right fit for me. After shopping around a bit, I realized I was fascinated in criminology and psychology and wanted to learn more about the factors related to criminal behavior.”

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Thus began her pursuit of a career in criminal justice studying biopsychosocial criminology, an interdisciplinary branch of criminology that studies how the interaction between biological, psychological and social factors might relate to criminal behavior.

Block says SHSU CJ’s reputation as a leader in the biopsychosocial criminology field caught her attention when choosing a school to earn her PhD, but a visit to the George J. Beto building on campus cemented her decision to become a Bearkat.

“I enjoyed attending the PhD preview day,” Block said. “I got to meet several students, faculty and staff members, and all of them were very kind. The SHSU community was a place I wanted to be a part of.”

While her time at SHSU was full of highlights, including being named the 2023 recipient of the Rolf Loeber Student Innovation Award by the American Society of Criminology’s (ASC) Division of Biopsychosocial Criminology, the past few years were not without challenges.

“I came in during the pandemic and had to navigate being online for the first year. I also faced more than a dozen rejections for manuscripts, scholarships and awards.”

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However, Block did not let those setbacks stall her scholarly ambitions. Nine scholarly papers she authored or co-authored were published during her time as an SHSU CJ doctoral student.

Other accomplishments Block earned include the American Society of Criminology's Division of Experimental Criminology Student Paper Award, a Graduate Assistant Fellowship for the Association of Doctoral Programs in Criminology and Criminal Justice and two SHSU College of Criminal Justice scholarships.

As she looks forward to beginning her career as an assistant professor with Rowan University’s Department of Law and Justice Studies, Block says she will truly miss the camaraderie shared with her fellow CJ students.

 “I’ll miss spending time with my fellow graduate students. We shared a lot of laughs and good conversations down in our offices,” she said.

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