COLA Connections Newsletter: May 2014

Student Spotlight - Pedro Vazquez

Among the wide array of student backgrounds in the College of Liberal Arts Pedro Vazquez’s unique life experiences set him apart as a devoted and caring individual.

His background has also given him a distinctly positive outlook and desire to give back to his community, and to pay it forward. His passion for success, determination to help others, as well as his academic triumphs have all been instrumental to Pedro being selected as the COLA graduation delegate.

Born in Puerto Rico, Vazquez moved to Rochester with his family at the age of three. The third of four children born to working-class parents, he is the first person in his family to graduate from college, let alone with a master’s degree. However, he did not always see himself being in this position.

Struggling with the challenges of a learning disability, Pedro dropped out of high school. Eventually  earning his G.E.D. he enrolled in Monroe Community College where he received his Associate’s degree in Criminal Justice. Continuing his Criminal Justice education at Brockport College Pedro intended to enroll in Law School after earning his Bachelor’s degree, he never imagined he would come to RIT.

“My mentor at Brockport College encouraged me to keep my doors open and look at graduate degree programs,”says Vazquez. “RIT is the only school in Rochester offering a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice, so it was a perfect fit.”

Here at RIT Pedro has been an outstanding student. Working with the Center for Public Safety Initiatives (CPSI), he conduced research on how to reduce violence by analyzing interventions being used in countries around the world. His work with CPSI helped direct him to his thesis, Open-Air Marijuana Markets: Rochester Drug-Free Street Initiative.

Vazquez has a plan for his Criminal Justice degree, whole-heartedly saying “I want to take the skills I have learned and give back to my community.”Eventually, he added, he would like to receive his PhD in Criminal Justice.

As his career at RIT comes to an end, Vazquez reflects on his time here with a sense of gratitude:

“Being here [at RIT] has helped me defeat difficulties. I have a learning disability and RIT has helped me overcome that. My public speaking has improved, as well as my reading and learning skills.”

Vazquez will get to showcase his public speaking skills at the upcoming commencement ceremony. As graduation delegate he will make a speech to his peers, something he’s looking forward to doing.

“I was surprised when I was named delegate,”he said. “I want to thank RIT and the College of Liberal Arts for the opportunity, as well as the professors of the Criminal Justice department.”

“Graduation is an emotional event from the heart and soul.”