Stephanie Cardwell


CardwellGS: Where are you from?
SC: I was born in Birmingham, but I spent the majority of my childhood and teenage years in Leeds.

GS: What degree will you receive and when?
SC: I will be receiving a Masters of Science in Criminal Justice during the summer of 2013.

GS: How long have you been at UAB?
SC: I started my undergraduate studies at UAB during 2007 and began my graduate studies in 2011. So this is my 6th year here.

GS: What is your research?
SC: My research interests involve predictors of delinquent behavior in adolescence and how this behavior spans across the life-course. Specifically, my thesis focuses on how personal characteristics, such as personality differences, interact with one’s social environment and lead to criminal outcomes.

GS: Why did you choose UAB for your graduate studies?
SC: I chose UAB for graduate school due to the high research activity of the faculty in the Department of Justice Sciences. Many of them regularly publish research articles in top tier journals in the field of criminology/criminal justice. Further, due to the small size of the program, I felt that I would be able to develop close relationships with the faculty and conduct my own research projects with them.

GS: Have you received any awards or honors?
SC: I have received the outstanding graduate student in criminal justice award for the past two years.

GS: What has been your most rewarding experience at UAB?
SC: Definitely the variety of research projects that I’ve been involved with since joining the department. I’ve worked projects that involved interviewing former meth addicts at a faith based recovery center, analyzing interviews with convicted identity thieves to understand their excuse and justifications for committing their crimes, and working with the Birmingham Police Department to measure domestic homicide rates in the city. Additionally, I have assisted in the development of two encyclopedias focused on the topics of deviance and corrections.

GS: Who was your greatest influence here at UAB and why?
SC: While the entire criminal justice faculty has played a role in my development as a graduate student, I would have to say that Dr. Heith Copes has had the most influence on me during my time at UAB. Dr. Copes recruited me into the criminal justice graduate program during my final semester as an undergraduate student and was willing to give me a research assistantship with the department. When I began the program, he was gracious enough to include me in some of his research projects, which lead to publications in top journals in the field of criminal justice. He is a fantastic motivator and gave me the desire to continue on in academia. I can honestly say that had Dr. Copes not recruited me into the criminal justice graduate program, my life would be completely different.

GS: What is your motivation in your academics/research?
SC: The joy of discovery. It really is a wonderful feeling to uncover something through research that is new to the field. I like answering my own questions and am motivated to do so through my research.

GS: What are your plans after graduating and for the future?
SC: I have received a teaching assistantship at the University of Texas at Dallas’ PhD program in criminology and will begin my studies there in August 2013. Following the completion of the program I hope to continue publishing my research and gain a position as a tenure-track faculty member at a research university.

GS: Is there anything else you would like to say?
SC: Graduate school is a wonderful time to gain experience in your desired field of interest. However, whether you choose to make this experience beneficial to your future career goals is a big determinant of your success after graduation. Make your presence known to your professors, work hard, and follow your mentor(s) guidance. Those factors right there will ensure that you reap the benefits of your degree.

Stephanie’s Advice for Other Graduate Students:
While having smarts and connections in graduate school will take you far, I firmly believe the single best determinant for success in graduate school is work ethic. Not everyone makes good grades and not everyone is presented with the same research/educational opportunities. However, every single person has work ethic; but whether one chooses to utilize his or her work ethic is ultimately a choice. Simple things such as being seen in your lab/department and following your mentor(s) directions shows them that you care and are willing to work hard. Further, many professors I know speak highly of students with a good work ethic and would rather associate with such students than with those who lack motivation.