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Spring graduate breaks down barriers within the criminal justice system

Daniela Oramas Mora

Daniela Oramas Mora

May 03, 2024

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2024 graduates.

Daniela Oramas Mora, a graduating PhD student from St. Petersburg, Florida, has proven that dedication can lead to significant accomplishments.

Mora is a first-generation immigrant from Cali, Colombia, and a first-generation student who has set the bar high for her future. Mora’s passion for criminology and criminal justice started at a young age when she found herself captivated by the many aspects of the field. She was especially interested in how external and systemic influences can alter an individual's involvement in criminal behavior.

However, it was the famous quote, "Find a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life,” that solidified her decision to pursue a career in criminology and criminal justice.

Mora jumped into action to carve out her career path by choosing Arizona State University for her doctorate program; she was drawn to the exceptional faculty of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

One professor in particular made her academic experience noteworthy.

“The professor who imparted the most important lesson to me was Dr. Ojmarrh Mitchell, who has been my mentor for six years now. Dr. Mitchell demonstrated the profound impact of exceptional mentorship on a student's career trajectory. By embodying the qualities of a great mentor himself, he taught me invaluable lessons. I aspire to pay it forward by mentoring students, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds, and providing them with the same level of support Dr. Mitchell offered me,” she said. 

Moreover, ASU's commitment to diversity and inclusivity resonated with Mora's values and created a culture in which she felt comfortable growing as a scholar. During her time at ASU, Mora has been inspired by the impactful work carried out by both faculty and students from various backgrounds. 

To those still in school, Mora shares the best advice she has learned: “Success is a journey, not necessarily a destination. It might take time before you achieve your goals, but it's crucial to celebrate the small victories along the way. Give yourself grace because you are doing a lot more than you often give yourself credit for. So, enjoy those small victories!” 

Mora's journey has been a testament to the power of hard work, dedication and mentorship. 

Question: What was your favorite spot on campus for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life? 

Answer: I've found studying and working in coffee shops to be quite enjoyable, especially at Valley Coffee Company. When meeting friends, our go-to spots are often The Churchill or Arizona Wilderness DTPHX. 

What are your plans after graduation? 

A: Starting this fall, I'll be embarking on an exciting journey as an assistant professor in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society at George Mason University. In this role, I'll teach and conduct research. My research focus will be on informing policies geared towards reducing the cumulative disadvantages experienced by racial and ethnic minorities, along with other marginalized communities, within the US court system. 

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: While our planet faces numerous challenges such as world hunger, poverty, war and climate change, my expertise lies in criminology and criminal justice. I would prioritize tackling the mass incarceration crisis and addressing the unwarranted disparities — e.g., race, ethnicity, gender, age, legal status, LGBTQ+ and socioeconomic status — in the U.S. criminal justice system. 

Q: What would be the process to investigate an issue like this?

A: It would involve conducting empirical research to evaluate existing policies, such as the progressive prosecution movement and developing new policies aimed at reducing mass incarceration through alternatives like pretrial diversion programs and probation, while also ensuring community safety and protecting victims' rights. Additionally, efforts would focus on addressing unwarranted disparities across policing, courts, corrections, and the juvenile justice system.

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