College of Education, Criminal Justice, & Human ServicesCollege of Education, Criminal Justice, & Human ServicesUniversity of CincinnatiCollege of Education, Criminal Justice, & Human Services

College of Education, Criminal Justice, & Human Services

Criminal Justice Grad Realizes His Passion, Seeks to Make a Difference in Corrections

John Spain headshot

CJ Alumnus John Spain

When criminal justice (CJ) graduate John Spain, BS ’13, first started his college journey at UC he enrolled in a different college and thought he would follow a different career path. However, soon after, he came to realize that the field of criminal justice is actually where his passion and interests have always truly lived. 

“I realized I was in the wrong area of study for me and that I was initially interested simply because of the high earning potential,” Spain said. “But it wasn’t really for me. I didn’t find the field interesting and I knew I needed to make the switch to criminal justice because I found it more exciting and easier to make a direct and positive impact on the community.”

Spain joined UC’s nationally-ranked School of Criminal Justice and began studying crime, learning about what drives some criminals to commit crimes and how the criminal justice system is working to thwart such offenses. Spain also joined the School’s Criminal Justice Society, a student organization that provides its members with networking opportunities as well as trips to prisons, shooting ranges, and other CJ-related organizations not open to the public. The CJ Society also arranges talks and guest speakers, bringing in federal agents, police officers, corrections officers, and other professionals in the field.

“I encourage our students to get involved in the community through volunteering as well as working in the CJ field during their college careers,” said Sue Bourke, criminal justice professor and undergraduate program director. “John did all this while also being an involved parent at home. John was a model student, actively involved in classes, extracurricular activities, and working in the CJ field while at CECH to gain necessary experience.”

“I’ve learned that you have to follow your passion,” Spain said. “If you’re going to pursue a field like criminal justice you should be passionate about it, I think. It’s all about being dedicated to making a difference.”

In summer 2013, Spain interned at River City Correctional Center in Greater Cincinnati. This experience, like the many others that CJ students do, gave Spain a greater understanding of how a correctional facility runs properly and works with inmates on rehabbing and other important activities.

“I became immersed in the system, learning how to work with incarcerated people,” Spain said. “It was a very rewarding experience.”

Bourke notes that Spain has done very well in the CJ program and is well-respected by faculty and students alike. With his passion for the field and his experience inside and outside of the classroom studying criminal justice, he has his sights set on helping improve the incarceration system. “I want to work in a prison and help make things better,” he said.