Office Hours: Trevariana Mason
Criminal Justice M.S. Student at Michigan State University
B.S. in Sociology, Criminal and Social Justice/Minor in Psychology from Central Michigan University
What inspired you to attend grad school?
I cannot say that there was a specific reason that inspired me to attend graduate school, however towards the end of my senior year in college I began to wonder “what's next”. I was unsure on what exactly I wanted to do with my degree and was extremely fearful that my BS had no value upon graduation. I had head so many times throughout undergrad that a bachelors was equivalent to a highschool diploma. Comments as such motivated me to raise the standard and goals i had set in place for myself.
Tell me about your proudest grad school moment. Why was it special for you?
My proudest moment in grad school is when I completed my master's thesis, "Strategies Used by African Americans During Police Encounters and their Effect on 'The Talk' Given to Black Children." This was one of my proudest moments because my thesis had consumed an extreme portion of my last year in my program; which was expected. However I believe many of the odds were stacked against me from the very beginning of this process. From solidifying a committee to balancing a full time job and an assistantship all while trying to set aside time for the actual thesis. After rearranging some of my daily activities I was able to work on my thesis daily and crank it out. Receiving a message from MSU stating that my thesis had been accepted by the university was life changing.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten while in grad school?
The best piece of advice I received in grad school was to “understand the commitment of obtaining a Masters or a PhD. It takes a huge commitment to place other aspects of your life on hold to make room for such a task.”
If you had to describe your Black grad experience with one song, which one would it be, and why?
J. Cole - "Note To Self." The first 3 minutes of the song literally sums up a letter to myself while working on my thesis, defending my thesis, and receiving my diploma. The song affirms that there are brighter days ahead, and that is how I felt throughout my grad school experience.
What has been your biggest obstacle in grad school? What strategies have you used to try to overcome it?
Time management was my biggest obstacle throughout grad school. I hd to learn fast that there are only 24 hours in the day. I used a planner and my iphone calendar to keep track of dates and times to ensure I did not double book activities for myself.
What has this experience (pursuing a graduate degree) taught you about yourself?
This experience has taught me that I am a strong person. Literally anything I put my mind to I can achieve.
If you could go back to the first day of grad school, what advice would you give to yourself?
Don't rush things, it's not a race, work at your own pace. I entered a cohort of 8 people and being one of the only minorities I felt that there was an extreme amount of pressure on me to perform at a high level within my program. Therefore I placed intense deadlines on myself to not only excel but to finish the program within the two years “most students finished”. Many of the people I entered with did not graduate in two years some prolonged their stay which in the end may have been best for them to figure out what they wanted to do. Myself, I believed I rushed my program and experience by placing the two year deadline on myself.
How do you think your identities have informed your graduate experience?
As a Black woman who is first generation college student I often believed that I had to work 10 times harder as others in my cohort to not only attend the university but to receive funding, and access resources. The grad school process, in my opinion, prepared me for the cruel job hunt and the workforce in general.
How do you intend to use your degree in the future?
I intend to use my degree to help Black people in every aspect of the criminal justice field as possible. One of my goals is to help women of color who are incarcerated. I started a project called 4Assata which intends to help women who are incarcerated with any of their needs. Whether it’s commissary, telephone allowance, enrolling in college courses, or just being able to point them to another organization for resources, 4Assata is intended to help.
What’s something that you would tell someone who is interested in pursuing a similar path?
I would tell someone who is interested in Criminal Justice to research the schools they plan to attend and decipher whether or not the institution would be a great fit based on their career goals. Research the professors in the department. Research the various
Certifications one can obtain while attending the university as well. Make every penny count. Look outside your department for funding opportunities (there are plenty). Use your time in grad school to find your passion and develop a way to work on your passion post grad.
Feel free to reach out to Trevariana: email@example.com