A stroll through a College of the Rockies Open House sparked Mackenzie Nelson’s journey to discovering her true passion. Her curiosity was piqued when she discovered there was a Criminal and Social Justice (CRSJ) program at the College and she was keen to learn more.
In 2019, Mackenzie decided to take the plunge and enrol in the program. Being from Cranbrook, the ability to stay home and save money was appealing, but her decision unveiled a myriad of opportunities beyond financial savings.
“I loved the ability to attend courses in a variety of disciplines as part of the program, including psychology; sociology; child, youth and family studies; and criminology,” she said. “I felt very supported by the instructors who helped to develop my passions and further my knowledge in different areas.”
In 2022, with her passion for criminal and social justice firmly entrenched, Mackenzie graduated. She had completed two years of university-level education which she could now transfer to another institution. She chose to complete a Bachelor of Social Work at Thompson Rivers University (TRU) where she completed a practicum at Kamloops Community Corrections and joined a research team as an assistant. TRU faculty, former students, two students (including Mackenzie) work alongside the Kamloops Elizabeth Fry Society to research and inform the community about gender inequality in the workplace and gender-based violence.
Now, with only months left in her bachelor’s program, Mackenzie looks back with fondness at her time at College of the Rockies.
“I feel by obtaining my Criminal and Social Justice diploma at College of the Rockies, I was more prepared for a university course load and adjusting to the differences between college and university,” she said. “College of the Rockies provides smaller class sizes which allow the instructors to spend more time really delving into topics and ensuring concepts are understood. The College also allows for individuals to try a variety of classes to help foster creativity and passions for further career options.
“I am fortunate to meld my diploma and my degree into a passion of mine. The CRSJ program prepared me to be ready to find a new passion in advocacy which I discovered through my work as a research assistant. I feel the ability to have both lenses will help me become a well-rounded (future) social worker who understands inequalities, systemic oppression, over-representation, and gaps within systems. I hope to use that understanding to take steps to bring further awareness and change.”
Standing on the brink of concluding her university chapter, Mackenzie is confident her time at the College not only prepared her well for the second phase of her academic journey but also provided a robust foundation on which she can construct a gratifying and enduring career.
Learn more about the Criminal and Social Justice program.