Criminal justice undergrad lands internship with US Marshal's Office

ASU student Jennifer Pitts

Jennifer Pitts, an undergraduate in criminology and criminal justice at Arizona State University, says her ultimate goal is to be a U.S. Marshal and work in witness protection. She’ll be getting a taste of that this spring, as she was recently selected for a highly competitive internship with the U.S. Marshal’s office in Phoenix.

“I am very excited. I essentially put all of my chips into that pot – I wanted it so badly,” she says.

“I really like helping victims and getting justice. I know that sounds cliché,” she says. “I’ve always been interested in criminology and criminal justice. I think it is due to the fact that my dad’s a firefighter and my mom’s a nurse, so I wanted to go into a field where I help people.”

“Jennifer is a great example of what we hope happens with all of our students,” says Kevin Wright, assistant professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, part of the College of Public Programs at ASU. “She has started the process of translating excellence in the classroom into making an impact in our communities.

“I am particularly pleased that she has chosen to focus on helping victims. When we talk about ‘justice’ in the criminal justice system, we usually mean justice for victims, and yet they are often left out of the process. This prestigious internship will allow Jennifer to make an immediate impact on the lives of others,” Wright adds.

As an intern, Pitts says she will be doing a little bit of everything – helping with prison transport, doing fitness tests, going to court – to get a full perspective of the job.

Her interest in the Marshal’s office stems from a desire to “make a bigger impact at the federal level.”

Pitts transferred to ASU from Northern Arizona University (NAU) as a sophomore. She was already working toward a degree in criminology and criminal justice. An internship with the NAU police department furthered that interest.

When she decided to transfer, she says that meeting with an adviser was a great help.

“I met with Becca Garcia-Blanks, who is wonderful,” she says of Garcia-Blanks, an adviser with the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. “She helped ensure that I had the classes that I needed and [was able to] make a smooth transition.”

Pitts is on track to graduate in spring 2015. She says one of her favorite classes is CRJ 406, a sex crimes class with Rebecca Loftus, a lecturer with the school.

“You hear some very colorful terms at 9 a.m.,” she says. “But it is information that I feel will be useful after graduation.”

She notes that she is learning about the offense cycle, law enforcement and the criminal justice process.

“We are learning how victims respond and how offenders actually think,” she adds.

But not all of Pitts’ time is spent on the Downtown Phoenix campus. She lives at the West campus and is part of ASU’s color guard, with frequent visits to Tempe for practice. She has been a part of the Sun Devil marching band and color guard since transferring to ASU, and is also part of the Phoenix Independent Winter Guard.

Pitts is also a member of Alpha Phi Sigma, the criminology and criminal justice honor society.