I recently graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and will have a Bachelors degree in Forensic Psychology and English. Upon my arrival to the school I was invited to take part in the Early Start Program for English, which gave students the opportunity to take a course in the summer which would roll over into the fall, but also lessen the workload for that upcoming semester.
Initially, I did not plan on staying at John Jay for four years and had it set in my mind that I would transfer somewhere else to get the “full college experience” aka to dorm and be miles away from home. I happened to really enjoy the program and made friends with fellow classmates, but most of all I was captured by the kinds of discussions that were happening during class. The program was my first introduction to what it would feel like to be a college student and to what it feels like to be treated as though my ideas mattered. During the course of the program we conducted a project about gentrification, a term I had never heard of before but was very much curious about. I got the chance to walk around Harlem with a group of classmates and interview residents about how gentrification was impacting them. It was then that I knew John Jay was a place for me to be.
I majored in Forensic Psychology because I had it set in my mind that I wanted to be a forensic psychologist, but those ideas were picked apart as I took courses that highlighted the fact that what you see on tv is not what it looks like in real life. I was ultimately intrigued by the kinds of stories the professors told about the work they had done and were doing, videos we had watched about social experiments and the overall experience of learning about different fields of psychology. Fast forward a year later and I've declared a minor in English not knowing or even thinking that I would declare it as my second major that same year. Most nights I got about four hours of sleep from working on papers last minute or studying for exams and I can say now that most of those late nights were caused by procrastination, every students bad habit. Juggling both majors meant that I had to take 3 psych classes and 2 English/literature classes in one semester or vice versa.
The downside of double majoring was scheduling, scheduling, scheduling. Sometimes the time of a certain class conflicted with the timing of another class or they happened to be at the same time, so I had to choose one over the other. One semester I had all 3 of my psychology classes in one day and my brain was having the hardest time ever when it came to midterms and finals. The best advice I can give is to use a planner and set reminders, find someone in your class that you can study with and most of all USE RATEMYPROFESSOR. During my senior year I took on an Independent Study, a project that you conduct based on your own interests with the help of a mentor/professor who helps guide you. The project gave me the ability to explore the works of Audre Lorde and James Baldwin, two extraordinary writers that I love and dig into the ways that their writing connected to the real world. I got to present a bit of my project during Research Week and it was an incredible experience.
The post-grad transition from student to adult has been bittersweet, but during this time I have found that the friends you make in college are the ones that stay. I was blessed to walk the stage and graduate with two of my good friends who I had met during my freshman year. We were nervous and on the verge of tears because the moment had finally come, but we were also so very proud of one another. For recent graduates I can say that now is the time to do what you didn’t have time to and enjoy where life takes you!
Written By Ashanti Lee
Ashanti Lee is a recent college graduate of John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She enjoys writing poetry and believes in the power of community.