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Adela Kates, criminal justice, College of Liberal Arts

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Adele Kates chose a career in the criminal justice field after watching her mom and sister, both social workers and court advocates, helping people navigate a confusing judicial system. Both influenced her to learn more about the profession.

“We’ve had police involvement, not for us, but another family member, and just seeing the police officers, and how they would interact with us and the public in general, I thought to myself, I just want to help people, too. I don’t want to be anything but a positive statistic in life.”

Kates is more than a statistic. She and her classmates in the first cohort of Rochester City Scholars are turning some of the statistics about students in the Rochester City School District around.

“There are classes where students want to learn and do well,” said Kates, who graduated from Wilson Magnet High School.

Through her own determination and support from family and encouragement from teachers, she looked into RIT, although her first choice after graduation was the Navy. But she came to an RIT open house and was astonished to see a campus nearly as large as a city. Later, she learned about the scholarship from her guidance counselor and was encouraged to pursue the opportunity.

Four years later, Kates will be the first in her family to graduate from college.

“This is going to be phenomenal for them,” said Kates, who interned at the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and is awaiting news of her civil service exam for the county. “Growing up, college was reinforced. They’d tell me, ‘Adele, you’re going to college, you’re like our last hope.’”