Social Reform / Criminal Reform
B.A. June 2011, Summa cum Laude
Home College: John Jay
Faculty Mentor: Prof. Staci Strobl, Law and Police Science, John Jay
Thomas W. Smith Academic Fellowship
CUNY BA Memorial Scholarship
While in high school, Julia Szendro did demolition work in New Orleans as a restoration project for homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina, and built a house in Nicaragua with a cultural exchange program: these experiences had a major impact on the direction she decided to take with her undergraduate studies.
In 2007 she enrolled at Pace University. During her two years there, in addition to full-time study, she continued her work in the social change realm, interning at both an Alternative to Incarceration Program for juvenile offenders and with the Fortune Society which connects the formerly incarcerated with much needed social services.
In 2009, she transferred to CUNY and applied to CUNY BA. In her application she wrote about her passion for the reform of social injustice, saying “I propose that my major be in criminal and social reform. It is important to me that I not only study the relationship between crime and the aspects of the culture that perpetuate it, but also the reformative, restorative and harm-reducing actions that are being taken to counterbalance these injustices. In my studies I hope to learn the barriers that one faces when attempting to make reform possible, as well as the theories to support the change that I will be fighting for.” In recommending her to CUNY BA, Prof. Ida Dupont, Assoc. Prof. of Criminal Justice at Pace wrote, “She stood apart as one of my most inquisitive, hard working scholars.”
Building upon some of the coursework she completed at Pace, Szendro took undergraduate and graduate courses in Sociology, Criminal Justice, Africana Studies, Psychology, Corrections and Anthropology at John Jay College (and one course at Hunter) with the guidance of her faculty mentor. During her studies, she served as a research assistant to Prof. Ric Curtis, Anthropology, John Jay. She also interned at the ACQC Long Island City Needle exchange. Currently, she is interning at Housing Works, in the re-entry department, which connects the formerly incarcerated with a variety of services including primary care and housing. In January 2011, Szendro organized a trip to go back to Nicaragua to build another house.
In Spring 2011, Szendro was awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student Program Scholarship. In the Fall, after stepping up her study of the Hungarian language, she will return to her native Hungary as a Fulbright Fellow where she plans to conduct research into the problem of youth who are at-risk of becoming homeless. As she explained in her Fulbright application, “After the collapse of the eastern bloc in 1989 all aspects of life changed dramatically and Hungarians were forced to quickly adjust. 2010 marked the coming of age for a whole new generation of Hungarians, a generation who face a very different struggle than their parents who lived through an oppressive communist régime. With increased importance placed on secondary education, the pressures of becoming consumers in a newly formed capitalistic society and the uncertain job market, the youth of Hungary are facing a difficult transition into adulthood….These factors leave Hungarian youth disconnected from parents, vulnerable to risk taking behaviors and more likely to become homeless.” Szendro plans to work with, among other agencies, the National Institute of Criminology in Budapest on her research. She is now enrolled in a language course at the Hungarian House in New York City, preparing for her trip.