Today@Sam Article

Doctoral Students Earn Awards And Grants For Prestigious Summit

May 22, 2024
SHSU Media Contact: Mikah Boyd

By Kim Foster

Victoria Rivera Laugalis and Matthew CainesTwo Sam Houston State University College of Criminal Justice (SHSU CJ) doctoral students participated in the latest cohort of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences' (ACJS) Doctoral Summit. Matthew Caines and Victoria Rivera Laugalis received a scholarship to join PhD students from across the country attending the ACJS 2024 annual meeting in March.

To qualify, Caines and Laugalis had to maintain at least a 3.5 grade point average, be of advanced doctoral student standing and demonstrate they are rising leaders in the field through their nomination and application materials.

Jason Ingram, assistant chair and graduate program director for the SHSU Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology says it’s an honor for the students to be selected and the accolades are well deserved.

“Matthew and Victoria's academic and leadership achievements here at SHSU made them great candidates for participating in the summit,” Ingram said. “We are grateful to ACJS for providing this opportunity.”

The ACJS Doctoral Summit provides valuable professional development opportunities, especially in the areas of networking, teaching, research and service.

“Participating in the doctoral summit provided numerous opportunities to connect with students and faculty across the U.S. and internationally, opening doors for future collaborations and academic support,” Laugalis said. “I truly enjoyed the networking and professional development experiences and hope to foster and build upon those connections throughout my career.”

As part of their experience at the Summit, Caines and Laugalis participated in conference workshops and professional networking events.

“The sessions themselves were very informative,” Caines said. “Perhaps even more valuable were the great opportunities it provided to interact with doctoral students from universities across not only the country, but the world. I learned a lot through the experience and would highly recommend anyone considering applying in the future to do so.”

In addition to exploring those opportunities, they will also join a section or volunteer to serve on an ACJS standing or section committee for the year following the Summit.

Newly installed ACJS President and SHSU Professor in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Bitna Kim, is delighted SHSU was represented again at this year’s summit.

Cristal Hernandez-Avalos“The selection process for participation in the doctoral summit is highly competitive and I am particularly pleased two doctoral students from Sam Houston State University were chosen to participate,” Kim said. “This represents a wonderful opportunity for them to network with fellow doctoral students from various programs and engage with esteemed faculty members and researchers. I am confident the experiences gained through participation in the doctoral summit will greatly benefit our students as they continue to pursue their academic and professional endeavors.”

Also attending the conference was SHSU CJ doctoral student Cristal Hernandez-Avalos, who received the Student Scholarship Mini-Grant Travel Award. During the conference, she presented research findings from a project on which she collaborated with SHSU CJ Assistant Professor Miltonette Craig, examining the use of deadly force toward Latino individuals by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents.

“I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to attend this year’s ACJS conference,” Hernandez-Avalos said. “As a result of my presentation, I was able to meet a current CBP employee who expressed a willingness to assist me with future research endeavors. Because of this experience, I now have a personal contact at the largest police agency in the country, which is amazing.”

ACJS is an international organization whose mission is to promote education, research and policy analysis for criminal justice scholars and professionals. For more information about ACJS, visit their website.

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