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September 2021
In 2012, Erin Coughlin found the best way she could to honor her late father, New York Police Department (NYPD) Sergeant John Coughlin. After graduating from the Police Academy and becoming an NYPD police officer herself, she put on a badge inscribed with her father’s shield number. Before September 11, 2001, Sergeant Coughlin was taking classes at John Jay College, working in the NYPD Emergency Services Unit, and finding precious time to be with his wife and three daughters. “He was just this big teddy bear of a human being,” says Erin, the oldest of the three girls, about her six-foot-two dad. “He was so much fun and he loved his little girls.” We sat down with Erin to learn more about her courageous father. Read More
Alumnus Stephen Heavey B.S. ’05 M.S. ’12 grew up wanting to be a firefighter. “My father was in the department. He was a photographer back in the day, or what was called a ‘buff.’ We had a scanner radio in the house and if there was a big fire, he’d say, ‘Oh, I gotta take pictures of this.’ At six years old, watching this chaos and seeing these guys make sense out of it, that really appealed to me,” says Heavey, who had worked his way up to New York City Fire Department (FDNY) Fire Marshal by September 11, 2001 and is currently an FDNY Captain with over 27 years of experience. Read More
Continuing a long trend, John Jay College has again been nationally recognized by a wide variety of major publications for its affordable and top-quality programs and for its success enabling low-income and historically underrepresented students to climb the economic ladder. A number of specific programs, from Criminal Justice to Economics, were also singled out for excellence. Read More
Earlier this summer, New York Police Department (NYPD) Police Officer and John Jay alumna Lily Graham ’18 came to the rescue of a 63-year-old tourist who suffered a heart attack while walking on a Manhattan Street with his wife. “My partner and I were inside an adjacent location when the male collapsed,” recalls Graham, who is also a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). “My natural instincts kicked in and I began performing chest compressions, aiding this lifeless male. With the efforts of all the officers on the scene, EMS [Emergency Medical Services], and hospital staff, he is now living and in good health.” Read More
Graduating senior Ifeoma Okeke ’22, couldn’t be more thrilled to be back in the classroom this fall semester. Okeke, a Political Science major and transfer student, thought she would have to delay her graduation when a hold was placed on her CUNYfirst account. “The school year was approaching, and I had a debt of over $2,000 on my account. I didn’t have the option to take out another loan, so I thought I would have to drop out for the semester,” says Okeke, who has maintained a 3.4 GPA. Luckily, the team at the Bursar’s Office suggested she apply to the CUNY Comeback Program, a state-sponsored initiative that aids in eliminating unpaid student debt for those experiencing financial hardships. Read More
Graduating senior Serena Astudillo ’22, a Political Science major and proud Colombian and Puerto Rican, can confidently hold her own in a room of elected officials. As part of the ¡Adelante! Latinx Leadership Program, she helped lead several panel discussions with Latinx leaders, like New York City Councilwoman Carlina RiveraNew York State Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz ’05, and U.S. Congressman Adriano Espaillat. For Astudillo, those moments of interaction were inspiring and allowed her to see the kind of real-world impact she could have on the Latinx community in the future. Read More
Andrea Maria Schenkel’s ’21 road to earning a bachelor’s degree in just two and a half years started halfway across the world in her native Germany. There she’s a highly acclaimed, award-winning book author. “I had a very successful writing career. I’ve written six books that have been translated into several different languages throughout the world, but I always longed for something more,” says Schenkel. “I wanted to earn a college degree. It’s always been a dream of mine.” Read More
Anthony Decina ’25, a Forensic Psychology major from West Harrison, New York, was excited to start his John Jay journey, and looked forward to making new friends and learning more about his major. But he was also nervous about acclimating to college life. “College is so different from high school. Before coming to John Jay and the Summer Bridge program, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to adjust to a college environment, the workload, and the schedule,” says Decina. Thankfully, the Summer Bridge Program helped by connecting me to faculty and fellow students.Read More
John Jay College’s Institute for Justice and Opportunity has published Beyond the Record: A Justice-Oriented Approach to Background Checks. This new guide is designed to help employers, educators, education and employment program operators, licensing bodies, and housing providers better understand the individual, institutional and systemic barriers erected by background checks.
Legado a la Humanidad en Tiempos de Pandemia, a book co-authored by Elsa-Sofia Morote, Ed.D., Ph.D., Dean of Graduate Studies and Professor of Public Management, is now a bestseller on Amazon. The book features stories of resiliency amid the Covid-19 health crisis. All book proceeds are going to Flutterflies, a not-for-profit organization that helps support and empower women.
Professor of Criminal Justice Mangai Natarajan, Ph.D., has been named a recipient of a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to study the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on domestic violence and address the urgent need to advance the availability and accessibility of resources for victims nationwide. The study is being conducted under the NSF’s Build and Broaden program, which encourages research collaborations between scholars at Minority-Serving Institutions.
Marie Springer, Ph.D., Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Public Management, received the 2021 Outstanding Book Award for her book The Politics of Ponzi Schemes: History, Theory, and Policy from the American Society of Criminology’s Division of White-Collar and Corporate Crime.

Adjunct Professor of African History Milton Allimadi published a new book over the summer, Manufacturing Hate: How Africa was Demonized in Western Media. The book provides the reader with historical insight into how Europeans who traveled to Africa in the 1700s for colonial conquest used their journals to demonize Africans in order to justify their colonization and exploitation of the continent. This “template” was then adopted by media writers who perpetuated the notion of Africans and their descendants as “other.” 

Class Notes

Richard W. Walker, Jr., M.D. (B.S. ’71), a retired medical doctor and founder of Walker Health Care Holdings, Inc. and The Virtual Primary-Care Connection, LLC, has published his second book, Black Health Matters.

Matthew John Brunner (B.A. ’02) has retired from the New York State Court Officers after 30 years of service. Upon retirement, Brunner, who reached the rank of New York State Court Officer Sergeant and worked most of his career in the Bronx Supreme Court, received a Certificate of Merit from Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and a citation from New York State Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz.

In Memoriam

We’re saddened by the passing of James P. Levine, retired Dean of Graduate Studies and Research, and Professor Emeritus of Criminal Justice. He was an outstanding individual who contributed so much to John Jay College, students, and his colleagues.
Wednesday, September 15 to Friday, October 15
John Jay College is commemorating Latinx Heritage Month with a full lineup of events that celebrate and honor Latinx history, heritage, and culture. Check out the full list of events at:

Thursday, October 7
8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. | Zoom
Panelists will discuss the recent survey of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) practitioners’ and lay people’s understanding of the fundamental characteristics of dispute resolution processes. Panelists include University of Nebraska professors Kristen M. Blankley, Lisa PytlikZillig, and Ashley Votruba.
Thursday, October 7
4:30 p.m. | Zoom
Join us for a conversation with New York State Senator Julia Salazar, as part of our Emerging Leaders of Justice series and in celebration of Latinx Heritage Month. Salazar, who is Chair of the Committee on Crime, Crime Victims, and Corrections, and serves on the Committee on Women’s Issues, is the youngest woman elected to the New York State Senate and a proud advocate for immigrants and tenant’s rights.
Thursday, October 14
4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. | Zoom
Amy Mundorff, Ph.D., the University of Tennessee, will discuss the role forensic anthropology plays during the 9/11 victim identification process. For the Zoom link and more information contact Professor Mechthild Prinz, Ph.D., at
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