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"Point Park gave me the knowledge to be able to assess and investigate a case and come up with the best outcomes and options for our clients."

Cerissa Page '23

One of the most significant benefits of Point Park University's small class sizes is the ability to build meaningful relationships with professors.

The University's industry-experienced faculty are dedicated to connecting students with valuable job-shadowing opportunities, internships and full-time roles.

For a number of students in the School of Arts & Sciences, that one-on-one rapport translated into internships and jobs with The JASON (Judicial Assistance Serving Our Neighborhoods) Project, a nonprofit run by Mark Thompson, a Point Park alumnus who earned a B.S. in Criminal Justice. The organization supports people in need of assistance navigating the court system.

The JASON Project employs three Point Park alumni, and three current students who recently completed internships with the organization. Their responsibilities include investigating a variety of cases, attending court proceedings, reviewing and documenting pertinent information, interviewing clients, preparing discovery packets for clients' public defenders and educating their clients about the legal process and court etiquette.

"Contributing to The JASON Project's mission helps to give me a sense of satisfaction because I get to help truly make a difference in someone's life," said Alyssa Thomas '25, a graduate of Carrick High School double-majoring in criminal justice and intelligence and national security. "I also want to be an attorney someday, so this role is preparing me for that line of work."

Additionally, Michael Botta, professor of criminal justice and intelligence studies at Point Park, serves on the board of directors of the JASON Project as vice president. Dr. Lorelei Stein, former director of graduate programs for the department, is chair of the JASON Project’s board of directors.

In the Q&A below, Point Park students share takeaways from their experience with The JASON Project and how their Point Park education has contributed to their success.

Alexis Benhart '23

Title: Discovery Supervisor 
Degree Earned: B.S. in Criminal Justice
High School: City Charter High School

"I was taking an intelligence and national security course with Sean Elliot Martin, Ph.D. He and Michael Botta, D.S.S., would talk about The JASON Project, and one day I asked about how to get involved. In my role, I make sure that discovery in any case is reviewed and recorded. Discovery includes, but is not limited to, body camera footage, open source research, investigating a scene, reviewing police reports and reviewing testimonies. Professors Christine Secilia, Ed.D., and Richard Linzer, J.D., also had a significant impact on me. Having professors who worked in the field truly helped me prepare for this job. They shared a lot of information that was never covered in our textbooks."

Kassady Burke '25

Kassady Burke '25

Title: Investigative Intern
Major: Behavioral Sciences
High School: South Allegheny High School

"My role entailed working with child custody and criminal cases, which included going to family court and criminal court. Because of my major in behavioral sciences and career goal of becoming a social worker, interning with The JASON Project was beneficial for me because I learned the in's and out's of the legal system. This experience helped prepare me for my future."

Emily Dhanvada '23

Title: Intern Trainer and Investigator Supervisor
Degree Earned: B.S. in Criminal Justice
High School: Bruton High School 

"It means a lot to me to help people with their cases through The JASON Project. The justice system is not always fair, and I feel so honored to help people who are in need because they deserve a just outcome. Professors Christine Secilia, Ed.D., Andrew Richards, M.A., and Edward Strimlan, M.D., helped lead me to where I am now. They all have their distinct ways of teaching, and I remained engaged throughout their classes. They really do have their students' backs. For example, I emailed Dr. Secilia my junior year because I was looking for an internship to gain more experience for the real world. She gave me options, and The JASON Project was one of them. The rest is history!" 

Chloe LaRue '25

Title: Investigative Intern
Major: Criminal Justice; Intelligence and National Security minor
High School: Cristo Rey Jesuit High School 

"Point Park's criminal justice program prepared me for this experience by giving me a proper understanding of the field that I'm entering and how to collaborate with a team. I interviewed clients, took phone calls, investigated cases and collected information. It meant a lot to me to be able to help stop injustices in our community, as that is my life goal. Point Park has given me an opportunity to grow and become the me I can possibly be." 

Cerissa Page '23

Title: Intern Supervisor
Degree Earned: B.S. in Criminal Justice
High SchoolBarack Obama Academy of International Studies

"Point Park gave me the knowledge to be able to assess and investigate a case and come up with the best outcomes and options for our clients. Two professors whose lessons and lectures had a significant impact on me and will stick with me throughout my career are Christine Secilia, Ed.D., and Edward Strimlan, M.D. Point Park is a great school that offers plenty of classes and programs to expand your knowledge and ways of thinking that will ultimately set you apart from other candidates in your career field." 

Alyssa Thomas '25

Title: Investigative Intern
Major: Criminal Justice, Intelligence and National Security
High School: Carrick High School 

"My double-major helped me tremendously for this experience. In our criminal justice program, I've had many knowledgeable professors who really care about our education. They provide us with the necessary materials to be able to do our jobs. In the intelligence and national security program, I learned how to think with more of an open mind, how to perform a thorough analysis and how to conduct proper interviews. One of my favorite professors is Sean Elliot Martin, Ph.D. He always pushes us to do our best. I've learned so much from him that will allow me to succeed in my future career. I'm very thankful for the takeaways I've gained from his classes." 

More About: Carrick High School, criminal justice, faculty, Downtown Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Public Schools, South Allegheny High School, intelligence and national security, behavioral sciences, internships, alumni, success story, School of Arts and Sciences, Pittsburgh, City Charter High School