To me, Crystal Santana is my kid sister, best friend, and roommate, but to her friends and peers at Nyack College, she is so much more than that. To them, she is a powerful advocate for education, an accomplished academic, and the student government vice president of Nyack College’s New York campus. I chose her as my interviewee, not out of nepotism, but because of her vision for Nyack’s Criminal Justice club and her passion for Nyack as an institution. I decided to conduct our interview on the 22nd floor of Nyack’s Battery Park campus because there is always a sense of discipline in the atmosphere, and I figured it would keep us from procrastinating.
“What projects do you have in the works that are preparing you for your future career,” I asked getting straight to the point. Crystal was a little overwhelmed by the question because the nearsightedness of life as a student sometimes makes it impossible for her to see beyond classrooms and textbooks. She thought for a moment and then answered, “Well, I’m working on creating a criminal justice club at our school and am currently the VP of our campus. I guess these projects are preparing me to be a leader in whatever field I choose to go to.” As an older sister I understand leading others is a huge responsibility, and leading as a Christian can be unsettling, so I wanted to know if she always saw herself as a leader or if the image developed over time. “It’s hard to think of myself as a ‘leader’ because leadership wasn’t what I had in mind when I thought of creating the CJ club or running for VP. In both areas, I saw a need and simply wanted help. I think ‘leading’ is just something I fell into.” When a need is evident, most people desire to help but rarely do. The unavoidable call to action for Crystal and her classmates was the need to know what they could do with their degrees, and more importantly, how far their degrees could take them. “After having many discussions about life after graduation, my friend’s and I realized how broad the field we’re studying is. There are so many things you can do with a CJ degree. You could be a policeman or policewoman, a state trooper, a corrections officer, an activist, or a lobbyist. The list is endless. When I discussed creating the CJ club with professor Roberts, we decided the club would be a place where we could gather knowledge from professionals in different law based positions, so we could understand what is required to ensure our futures.”
My sister and I have been inseparable for the last few years, so learning she has her heart and mind set on moving to San Diego, California was a bit of a surprise. But I understood why she needs to go when she explained, “California is the only state with a Restorative Justice program. Working in this program would mean, I could, in my lifetime, be a part of something that truly effects change!” She informed me on some of the ways our prison system fails to rehabilitate inmates while in and after getting released from prison, and as she spoke, I could see the blaze of passion embolden her.
When asked why she thinks Nyack College is special, Crystal said, “Nyack’s beauty is in how unashamed students and professors are in their studies, faith, and teachings.”