Erin Cournoyer ’14 on a path to a doctoral degree in Sociology

Crime and Justice Studies alumna uses her passion as the foundation for her doctoral studies.

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Throughout the course of her education, Erin Cournoyer supported herself with a series of part-time jobs, including tutoring, waitressing, temping, researching, editing, and working as a program monitor at a women’s halfway house. Her work in the halfway house set Cournoyer on her doctoral path.

“After working as a program monitor at a women’s halfway house, I was inspired to continue researching the problems women encounter when they return to the community post-incarceration,” said the 2014 Crime & Justice Studies alumna. “I will always remember the stories and struggles of the women I met while working there.”

In her most recent position as a doctoral candidate in Sociology at UMass Boston, Cournoyer uses her passion as the foundation for her studies.

She’s completed one year in the program, and she is now beginning her own research project, which is funded by Larry J. Siegel fellowship.

“My current project will follow reentering women over the course of two years to see how their stay at a halfway house impacted their journey in addition to conducting an institutional ethnography of the halfway house itself,” Cournoyer said. “I am also working closely with the staff to implement a “graduation” ceremony at the halfway house in the form of a restorative circle.”

During her undergraduate years at UMass Dartmouth, Cournoyer had many opportunities and experiences that helped her secure her path to success.

“My professors were incredibly caring and supported me when I decided not to go to law school,” she said. “Through long conversations in office hours and innumerable e-mails, they helped me create a path to career opportunities out of my simple desire to ‘help people.’”

For Cournoyer, UMass Dartmouth was the best choice. It was the place where her dreams started to come true.

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