International Criminology / Psychology of Juvenile Delinquency
B.A. June 2013 Summa cum Laude
Home College: John Jay
Mentors: Profs. Maureen Allwood, Psychology & Mucahit Bilici, Sociology, John Jay
Thomas W. Smith Academic Fellowship
British Marshall Scholarship
Ronald E. McNair Scholar
John Jay-Vera Fellow
New York Needs You (NYNY) Fellow
Psi Chi International Honor Society
Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society
Professor Abby Stein Award
John Jay College Honors Program
3rd Place Rubin Essay Contest
Harvard Latino Leadership Initiative
“As a second semester student at John Jay, I was unsatisfied with my enrollment as a Forensic Psychology major and felt limited with the course options. I chose to take only electives that semester in John Jay’s interdisciplinary studies program. Half way through the semester, as I sat in the debate room prepping for a tournament, the debate club’s president introduced me to CUNY BA. After reading the brochure and exploring the website, I had found the place where I belonged.”
Nicolas Montano enrolled in CUNY BA to further his interdisciplinary interests in social justice, international development and criminology. Starting at John Jay, continuing at CUNY BA, and finishing as a British Marshall Scholar, he demonstrated perseverance, academic focus and compassion for the suffering of others.
He was inspired to be a fierce advocate for justice at an early age. His family was personally affected by the civil war that ravaged El Salvador in the late 20th century. Growing up in Spring Valley, NY, he also witnessed the consequences of poverty, limited educational opportunities and the absence of youth support systems. At fourteen he joined ASPIRA, a national organization dedicated to developing the educational and leadership capacity of Latino youth. He eventually became president of the Spring Valley chapter. He has served as a mentor to other youths through his internships at the South Bronx Community Connections for Youth, as well as working on multiple research and development projects at Common Justice, part of the Vera Institute of Justice. While on family trips to El Salvador, he also has helped to teach English and enhance youth outreach programs.
Montano’s academic interests focused on violence exposure and adolescent delinquency, especially among Latino and minority youth. His coursework covered both U.S. and developing countries’ policies on crime and violence, and included an independent study on gangs and international crime solutions. He served as an assistant for Prof. Allwood’s child and adolescent research projects and worked with Prof. Ric Curtis (Anthropology, John Jay) on a South Bronx Project examining community perceptions of youth and crime. “The innovative work that Nico has done toward exploring novel, community-based solutions for at risk-youth who live in high-crime neighborhoods places him among the future leaders in this field,” said Prof. Curtis. In his final semester, Montano is collaborating with Prof. Jana Arsovska (Sociology, John Jay) on her research project, Culture, Migration and Transnational Crime.
Last year, CUNY BA nominated Montano for the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government Latino Leadership Initiative Program, which he completed over summer 2012. As a requirement of the initiative, Montano developed, along with three other students, a mentoring program for Latino students at John Jay that will focus on community narratives of success and professional development. The program has hired Montano to return to Harvard as a mentor for this year’s CUNY cohort.
The British Marshal Scholarships provide high achieving students from the U.S. the opportunity to pursue studies at the graduate level in the United Kingdom. Only forty students are selected annually for this highly competitive award. Recipients for this year’s cohort came from, among other schools, Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Duke, Wesleyan, Brandeis, Northwestern and the U.S. Naval Academy. Montano is now one of six CUNY students to have ever received a Marshall Scholarship since its inception in 1954.
Montano’s Marshal Scholarship is taking him to England for two graduate programs: A Master’s degree in Research Methods in Social Policy and Sociology at the University of Liverpool, followed by a Master’s in Criminal Justice Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He hopes to address the poverty and high crime rates that he witnessed on his trips to Argentina and El Salvador in his graduate work. In addition to this demanding academic work, he intends to continue hands-on involvement in the youth-oriented community service.