Criminal justice major Rosa Colon ’17 earned her associate’s degree at Holyoke Community College, but knew she needed her bachelor’s degree to get the job she wanted. But with a full-time job and a husband and two young sons, “I wanted a small school, and I didn’t want to move far away,” she said.

Her professors told her about the degree completion program with Elms, so “I checked out the campus and it was small, it was perfect,” she said. “The people were really friendly and I kind of felt at home.”

As a criminal justice major, Rosa had to complete an internship, so she returned to the location of her HCC internship, the Department of Youth Services (DYS).

“I loved it, but in order to work there you had to at least have your bachelor’s,” she said. Through her internship, she was able to get a full-time job as a youth services coordinator working with at-risk youth with the Center for Human Development, which operates under the auspices of the DYS.

“An internship turned into employment,” she said.

Rosa is the first member of her Puerto Rican family to graduate from school.

“My mother never even graduated from high school,” she said. “And I have my associate’s and now my bachelor’s, so she is extremely proud.”

But Rosa isn’t done with school. In fact, she has five more years of it ahead of her. She wants to get her juris doctorate at Western New England University.

“I want to be a college professor and I want to teach criminal justice,” she said. “Particularly youth and juvenile delinquency – my passion is working with youth.”