From the Criminal Justice Major

Criminal Justice logo

When Victoria R. Garcia ’21 told friends or family that she was majoring in Criminal Justice, the response was often, “So you want to be a cop?” A recent graduate who now works at The Sobering Center, Garcia knows Criminal Justice encompasses much more than law enforcement. Garcia is the outgoing president of Beta Phi Zeta, a chapter of the American Criminal Justice Association, which strives to give students who plan on pursuing a career in criminal justice exposure to the field through guest speakers, field trips, community service, and trainings. The organization, founded and sponsored by Criminal Justice Assistant Professor Lisa Holleran, has grown to 21 members who are majoring or minoring in Criminal Justice, Criminology, Political Science, Forensic Science and Psychology. “We have a holistic approach to Criminal Justice,” Garcia said. “Many associate the major with pursuing a career in law enforcement, but the field is very diverse. Some students become attorneys, judges, or work for programs like The Sobering Center that divert people away from the criminal justice system. We are dedicated to seeing all sides and bettering the field, which is why we choose this major.” 

From the MAC Program

Singing Mental Health icon

There’s a saying in Portuguese, quem canta os males espanta, which translates to “sing your troubles away.” As a former music teacher, Elizabeth Brisola saw the transformative effect that singing could have on her students’ moods. When she became a Psychology graduate student in her native Brazil, she chose to research singing as a creative tool for mental health. Fast forward a few years, and Brisola is a psychologist, researcher and graduate student in St. Edward’s Master’s in Counseling Program, where she’s continuing her singing research. “The psychological meaning of singing, as well as other daily creative acts — making up a joke, finding a creative solution to a problem, freely dancing, tweaking a recipe, setting a beautiful table — can foster mental health, especially as they enable us to use and express our creative potential,” she said.

From the Marketing Class

Greenwashing Marketing

This spring, Michael Manimbo ’21 and his thesis advisor, Sarah Mittal, assistant professor of Marketing, set out to better understand the practice of greenwashing in advertising and marketing and its effect on consumers. (Greenwashing is when producers and manufacturers exaggerate claims of a product’s environmental benefit to increase sales.) Together, they tested different greenwashing strategies and found that, regardless of individuals' green/sustainable self-identity, customers were more likely to seek information and purchase the product that was marketed using most greenwashing tactics. Their hope is that the research could push lawmakers to take greater action to combat greenwashing. Consumers aren’t able to research every product, so it’s up to “legislators to take a more heavy-hand to outlining what green marketing claims can be used and when,” Mittal said. 

From the State Capitol


Like many in her field, assistant professor of Social Work Laurie Cook Heffron believes that policy advocacy around social justice issues is part of every social workers' ethical responsibility. This ethos was on full display at the National Association of Social Workers’ (NASW) Social Work Advocacy Week at the Texas Legislature, which included rallies, advocacy trainings, talks with legislators, and more. The advocacy week focused on mental health, healthcare, LGBTQ+ rights, immigration policy, and social workers as essential workers. St. Edward’s hosted the first event. Jessica Riley ’21, a Social Work major and NASW intern, helped organize the event and many others during the week. Looking back on the event, Cook Heffron said it “helped students and professionals practice advocacy skills, learn new ways of engaging in a virtual format, and increase their awareness of several contemporary issues that impact their clients.”

From the Social Work Class


Natalie Beck, assistant professor of Social Work, says the school-to-prison pipeline, which disproportionately targets students of color, with disabilities, in the LGBTQ+ community, and in immigrant families, is made up of structural inequities that put certain students on a path toward incarceration. Inside Beck’s new class “Breaking the School-to-Prison Pipeline,” students are learning about these structures through virtual field trips, guest speakers, a documentary screening, and various community events. Beck also connected her social work class with a journalism class: Together, the students are working on interdisciplinary teams to create infographics about different aspects of the school-to-prison pipeline. These infographics will be shared with local advocacy organizations, potentially to be used in current community advocacy work. Beck hopes the class and their project will create leaders that can transform our current systems.

From the MAC Program


Counseling educators have long noted a need for multicultural mental health counseling. Still, language somehow fell through the cracks. After recognizing that language and cultural barriers can turn clients away from counseling, more educators are seeking to provide training to counseling students that will prepare them to work with bilingual clients or to supervise other counselors who work in a bilingual environment. Cristina Thornell, assistant professor of Counseling, is at the forefront with her research on bilingual counseling and her new Introduction to Counseling in Spanish course for the Master’s in Counseling (MAC) Program. In this advanced elective course, which is open to students of all fluency levels in Spanish, future counselors have the opportunity to practice in both languages.

From the Spanish Course


Even though Texas is far from monolingual, many social services are still only offered in English. So when Emily Bernate, assistant professor of Spanish, teaches Introduction to Translation, she incorporates projects from the community so that students can see the value in their translation skills, while also learning about language and social justice. Most recently, the students helped the nonprofit Raíces with a translation project that will be used to help build an asylum case. The class also translates materials for mental health clinics, which often are behind other health services in offering Spanish language materials. Students build a professional translation portfolio, and nonprofits improve their services by receiving professional-quality translations.  

From Angers, France


Freshmen taking Sustainable Food Systems and Intro to Sustainability are talking with French students at an agricultural university about how to share ideas on protecting our natural environment. Throughout the semester, the French and American college students meet in small groups over Zoom talk about ideas and experiences around sustainability: where they get their food, what kinds of food they most enjoy eating and more. The virtual exchange program is made possibly by a grant through the U.S. Embassy in France and the Angers English Language Library.

From the Civics Lab


Political Science students are bringing civics lessons to life. Professor David Thomason and his students recently launched the Civics Lab at St. Edward’s University, a podcast that shines a light on how civics life is evolving in Texas and nationally. For one episode, students traveled to the small town of Llano, Texas, and discovered how the Vietnam War shaped present-day public distrust of government. For another, they interviewed Rep. Stephanie Klick, chair of the Texas House Elections Committee. The Civics Lab will continue to highlight civics at a crucial time in the nation’s history.