Tonisha Haywood: Criminal Studies for the Public Sector / International Studies

Tonisha Haywood

Criminal Studies for the Public Sector / International Studies

B.S. June 2011

Thomas W. Smith Academic Fellowship

CUNY BA-International Foundation for Study Abroad Scholarship

U.S. House of Representatives Achievement Award for Volunteer Work

Marty Markowitz Award for Academic Excellence

Tonisha Haywood and her family immigrated to the U.S. in 2003 immediately following their being victims of a fatal house robbery. This violent crime, which claimed the life of her grandmother, motivated Haywood toward a career in criminology.

In fall 2008, after her second year at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, Haywood transferred to John Jay College where she planned to pursue a Bachelor’s in criminal justice. Then she had second thoughts. “What I really wanted was a program that would prepare me to return to my native country and work in the Ministry of National Security,” says Haywood, who was born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago. But there was no formal curriculum that aligned perfectly with her academic needs, until she heard about CUNY Baccalaureate for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies.

Haywood created two concentrations, using courses from City and John Jay Colleges in public administration, criminology, criminal justice, government, sociology and political science under the direction of faculty mentors Profs. Joshua Freilich, Sociology, John Jay/Graduate Center and Marina Fernando, International Studies, City College. She spent a semester at the University of Madras in India, thanks to her receiving an International Foundation for Study Abroad Scholarship from CUNY Baccalaureate; she chose India because of her interest in human rights as well as international criminology and law. In addition to courses such as Dalit Studies (study of Untouchables), Children and the Law and Indian Public Administration, she visited many slums and witnessed the neglect and immense poverty of many Indian families.

In summer 2009, Haywood interned at the Ministry of National Security of Trinidad and Tobago, working for the Penal Reform and Transformation Unit under the Prison Administration. She was able to visit and look closely at the prison system, including spending a day at the Maximum Security Prison for men and visiting the juvenile detention center where she sat in on a session with a psychologist.

Back in New York, Haywood worked with Prof. Freilich as a research assistant on a criminal justice study funded by the Department of Homeland Security. Prof. Freilich, also the Deputy Executive Officer of the Criminal Justice Doctoral Program at CUNY’s Graduate Center, says “I work with approximately 150 students each year. Some lack motivation, time or the ability to work independently. I have absolutely no doubt that Tonisha will be successful in all her endeavors.”

In her last semester, Haywood completed an internship with the MacDella Cooper Foundation (MCF).  MCF aims to alleviate and assist in eliminating the cycle of poverty in Liberia.  About the internship, Haywood said: “During the course of my internship there, I worked on the primary project at the time, which was MCF’s new co-ed boarding school in Liberia. The organization is adamant about the fact that education is a fundamental human right and action must be taken to ensure that this is implemented in Liberia.  My primary duties were to write communication pieces that were sent to individuals and organizations for fund-raising purposes. Also, I was responsible for creating informational files on every child who was due to attend the school when it opened and assign them to US-based sponsors.”

Haywood is thinking about going on to law school after graduating this spring, but she’s leaving her options open. One thing she’s certain about is that she’ll miss CUNY. “I’ve had a great experience here. In some ways I wish I could stay forever.”