Quinnipiac University

Student explores the gaps within the criminal justice system

November 16, 2021

Grace Stickel smiling and standing at beach

Grace Stickel ’22, MSW ’24, knew she wanted a job in helping others when she entered Quinnipiac’s 3+2 master of social work program. A criminal justice course she took fanned her interest in a possible career working with the previously incarcerated.

“Criminal Justice 101, which I took with Professor Stephen McGuinn, helped me gain a better understanding of the improvements that desperately need to be made in our criminal justice system,” said Stickel.

She described McGuinn as one of the best teachers she’s had, noting that he was very passionate about the field of criminal justice. Stickel also took a class with McGuinn called Life After Incarceration.

“Despite how much money is being poured into the system, it has so many faults and cracks. It is devastating to learn that we still don’t know what the goal of punishment should be and that everyone has a different idea of how we should be treating people who are incarcerated,” Stickel noted.

Passionate about her field of work, Stickel explained that as a social worker, she strives to be a part of the solution of this misconception and lack of knowledge.

“It really clicked with me how much incarcerated individuals struggle after their release,” she said.

Stickel explained that she loves the career possibilities that the MSW program at Quinnipiac offers. During high school, she had the chance to assist her school’s social worker, helping students with social and mental disabilities.

“When I found out that Quinnipiac offered a 3+2 MSW program, it seemed like Quinnipiac was meant for me,” said Stickel. "I will be able to get both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 5 years and save money by cutting out that extra year — you can’t beat that.”

The degree prepares students to work in a variety of settings and to become a significant voice and resource for many populations. Accelerated dual-degree program students complete their undergraduate work in three years. They begin taking graduate-level coursework in their third year before entering the School of Health Sciences for the remaining two years, where they complete their MSW and prepare for licensure.

Stickel credits sociology professor Catherine Solomon for encouraging her to enter the MSW program and illustrating how the five years would unfold.

Other courses Stickel enjoyed include Sociology of Sport and Forensic Psychology and her Social Stratification course.

“The class opened my eyes to the gender, race and age inequalities that are present in our society. I was able to better understand how certain institutions in our society support these inequalities as well,” said Stickel as she reflected on the course.

In Fall 2021, Stickel will begin a project-based internship for the Connecticut Association for Human Services, which provides financial guidance to people living at the poverty line. She has had summer jobs working with children with disabilities and explained that she is excited for the opportunity to expand her skill set. She also looks forward to serving as activities coordinator for the Bobcats in the Community, a service club on campus.

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