About Gabrielle Wy
From: Newburgh, IN
Advice for fellow students: “Constantly look ahead. Plan each day and each week with purpose.”
Presenting research at a professional academy may seem like a realm saved solely for professors but USI undergraduate student, Gabrielle Wy, is proof that younger academics can share that stage. Gabrielle joined USI Criminal Justice professors, Dr. Melinda Roberts and Dr. Martin Koen, on a panel at the 56th Annual Meeting for the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) in late March 2019. They, along with Bryce C. Newell of the University of Kentucky, presented their research from case studies on body-worn cameras.
Gabrielle was involved with the analysis of data from two studies under discussion at the conference, including one study in which she is first-author: Making Sense of Body-Worn Cameras: An In-Depth Examination of Special Units Across Two Agencies. She explains, “For this project, we were looking at perceptions of body cameras, specifically within special units. So, departments like K-9, SWAT, or undercover units that have officers in more specialized roles.” The data they used was collected through an interview process in which the officers shared their own experiences with body cameras. At the time of writing, only one other study had delved into special unit officers’ perceptions. With this new work by Gabrielle and Dr. Koen, researchers can start making comparisons between the data.
While criminal justice has become her new passion, Gabrielle did not start her college career in the Criminal Justice department. She came to USI after graduating from Castle High School in Newburgh, IN and began her college career as a Journalism student. For the first three years, she worked at USI’s student-run newspaper, The Shield. First as News Editor in her freshman year, Features Editor as a sophomore, and Editor-in-Chief in her junior year. Gabrielle initially had thoughts of becoming an investigative crime reporter which put her in classes with Dr. Koen. When he asked about her post-graduation plans after class one day, she admitted she was reconsidering. They were talking about her interests and other possible careers in criminal justice when Gabrielle brought up her love for school. “I have always loved learning. As a kid, I would get so mad when they would call snow days.” Thinking a career as a professor would satisfy that quest for knowledge, Gabrielle set her sights on getting a Ph.D. and becoming a professor. This new path led to Dr. Koen asking her to participate in his criminal justice research to help prepare her for graduate school.
At the same time, Gabrielle found that she was really enjoying her Psychology courses with Dr. Urska Dobersek, who happened to be looking for research assistants for her studies in sports psychology. Gabrielle collected and analyzed data in the psychology labs for two semesters as a part of Dr. Dobersek’s team, in addition to her criminal justice research. For both subjects, Gabrielle says, “So many areas within psychology and criminal justice haven’t been studied yet and I have so many research questions to ask.”
Now, as an Honors Program student with a triple-major in Journalism, Criminal Justice, and Psychology, Gabrielle is looking forward to continuing her education after graduation this spring. She applied to four graduate schools, three of which accepted her with a full-funding. She feels that the various research opportunities she had during her time at USI really helped her stand out to those schools. However, she remembers “figuring out how to sell myself was the hardest part. It was very nerve-wracking!” Luckily, she had support from her professors who encouraged her each step of the way. After lots of site visits and consideration, Gabrielle plans to attend the University of Maryland in the fall as a doctoral student.
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