Two years after obtaining his associate degree in criminal justice from the County College of Morris (CCM), Jeffin Thomas received his bachelor’s degree from the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University–Newark in May 2020. Enrolled in a dual-degree program at Rutgers-Newark, he will earn his master’s degree in criminal justice in December 2020.
“There is no other university in New Jersey to which I could have transferred after CCM and graduate with a master’s degree one semester after receiving my bachelor’s degree,” the Livingston, New Jersey, resident stated.
“I almost chose to attend a university that offered a paralegal certificate program. Fortunately, my family convinced me that a highly esteemed school devoted entirely to criminal justice would provide a more comprehensive experience than a university that touts merely a major or certificate program.”
During his time at Rutgers-Newark, Thomas has taken full advantage of everything the university has to offer. He serves in the Graduate Student Association (GSA) as one of the graduate student representatives for the School of Criminal Justice. He also acts as the “eyes and ears” of the Rutgers University Police Department–Newark Division as a community service officer (CSO), a part-time job he has held for approximately one year. As a CSO, he has had a number of unique opportunities which included working with the Community Affairs Unit of the Rutgers University Police Department and volunteering in various programs of Newark Public Schools. Although Thomas’s term as an GSA representative has come to an end, he will continue in his CSO role until he graduates in December 2020.
“When I was younger, I considered myself to be a shy boy and would go entire school days without talking to anyone. My experiences at Rutgers-Newark have changed all of that. As a CSO and graduate student representative, I have met all kinds of people throughout the Rutgers-Newark community. Consequently, I am far more outgoing as a result.”
Thomas recounts a story involving his childhood friends.
“One day I had an opportunity to meet up on campus with some childhood friends who attended neighboring New Jersey Institute of Technology. While we were talking and walking around the Rutgers-Newark campus, I literally was saying ‘hi’ to each and every person walking through the New Street Plaza. My friends pointed out to me how it felt like I knew everyone on campus,” Thomas reminisced. “I can’t say I know the more than 13,000 students here on campus but I can say that I have more friends and people here on campus who I consider a second family, which is more than I ever could have expected.”
His fondness for Rutgers-Newark explains why Thomas gives a special consideration to joining the faculty or staff of Rutgers University–Newark upon receiving his master’s degree.
“While I would welcome an opportunity to join a government agency at the county, federal, and international levels, I have a high preference to work at Rutgers-Newark,” Thomas stated. “I like the work environment. Also, Rutgers-Newark is just the right size to get to know everyone on campus. Moreover, as an urban university, I still can engage with the city of Newark because Rutgers-Newark is a part of the city of Newark and endeavors to make an impact in its surrounding communities.”
Arguably, Thomas’s main reasons for his desire to join the Rutgers-Newark faculty or staff is that his roots are on campus, and he wants to give back and do as much as he can for the Rutgers-Newark community because “Rutgers-Newark feels like home to me,” he shared.