Natalia Murillo Salazar remembers the sensitivity and support she received from the detective who took her case after a “very bad experience” she suffered as a child.

“People don’t have the best encounters with police. But the detective who worked with me was amazing. I didn’t have to relive anything in the courts. I learned there’s a lot that someone in that position can do for someone who needs help,’’ said Murillo Salazar, who lives in Dover and grew up in Madison.

The experience eventually inspired her to pursue a major in Criminal Justice. “I want to be a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves, to learn more about domestic violence and people who were being mistreated,’’ said Murillo Salazar, a senior.

The first in her family to attend college, Murillo Salazar was born in Colombia and transferred to RU-N from the County College of Morris. A RU-N to the Top scholarship helped her afford college while working full time. 

“It’s been a huge relief for me,’’ she said. “I don’t have to be a burden on my mom and she doesn’t have to worry about my college right now because of the program.’’

At RU-N, Murillo Salazar has found the help she needed to navigate the financial aid process and other challenges of college life. “Just going on a website and seeing all of these words and having to apply for aid and understand the situation taxwise has been hard. But whenever I reach out to someone with a question, they’ve been there. It’s made me more motivated to continue because there are days where I don’t know what I’m going to do but I always encounter people who are very friendly. That has continued to be motivating.’’

After graduation, Murillo Salazar is considering law school and is interested in pursuing immigration law, where the knowledge she has gained from the School of Criminal Justice will give her a better understanding of how the law can be used to help struggling immigrant families, she said.

“Immigration has always been a huge part of my life. I’ve had to deal with it since I was very young. I know how frustrating it is, and I know that unfortunately as immigrants we often have very little information,’’ she said. “Being able to help is what pushes me.”