Jorge Hernandez

Jorge Hernandez

"I keep telling myself 'I’m good.'"

College: Criminology and Criminal Justice
Degree Program: Criminology
Degree: Doctorate

Award: McKnight Doctoral Fellowship (2016)


Why FSU?

When applying for graduate programs I identified and applied to the top criminology programs in the country. Of the schools that accepted me, FSU had the best graduate program in Criminology. Therefore, there was nothing else to think about. I accepted their offer, and my fate was sealed.

Motivation to pursue a graduate degree

My motivation lies in my interest to understand human behavior. I always wondered from an early age why people committed crime. Through my undergraduate curriculum in criminal justice, I began obtaining general knowledge that helped me better answer that question. However, this knowledge only brought forth more complex questions that required a more rigorous understanding of criminology research. Graduate school offered the perfect place to answer the complex questions, which is why I am where I am today.

Importance of research

My research focuses on understanding the causes and prevention of adolescent crime. I focus on the importance of self-control and peer associations in terms of how they can influence criminal behavior. Understanding the causes of adolescent crime is critical for not only researchers, but also for policy makers, because it is usually in this time period when individuals’ propensity for crime is at its peak in their life. If we can find a way to better understand the predictors of crime we can more effectively inform effective policy geared toward the prevention of crime.

Career aspirations

While I mentioned the importance of my research, I recently found that my true passion lies in teaching. I have been afforded the opportunity to be the instructor of record in the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice these past three years and it has truly reoriented my career goals. It has become clear that my destiny lies in teaching criminology to the next generation of criminologists.

Advice for prospective graduate students

Find where your passion lies early on. Take a diverse set of courses from a variety of majors and find what sparks your interest. If you are going to decide to go to graduate school, then you must be really passionate about the program you are going into, because passion is what will keep you going in the midst of the hellacious workload that comes with graduate school. Also, be sure to speak to faculty members about what molded their decision to go to graduate school. Faculty members’ experience can be an invaluable source of wisdom for people making the life-changing decision of pursuing a graduate education.

Accomplishments during graduate career

One of my most important accomplishments in my graduate career besides advancing into PhD candidacy and publishing a co-authored paper published in a premier criminology journal is that I have been given the opportunity to be a graduate instructor in the College of Criminology at FSU. I am always surprised and humbled by my students’ passion and determination. It helps reignite my passion for teaching. In large part because of the fabulous students I have had the pleasure to teach and learn from, I was awarded the Joseph R. Harris Endowed Memorial Fund in Criminology Teaching Award for outstanding performance as a graduate student instructor. I am also a recipient of the McKnight Doctoral Fellowship! Yet, more important than these accolades is the feeling of joy I often experience at the end of each course when students tell me that my teaching has sparked their curiosity and enthusiasm for criminology. There is no better accomplishment than hearing those words.