N.Y. Secretary of State Rossana Rosado Will Earn Her Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice From John Jay’s Online Program

N.Y. Secretary of State Rossana Rosado Will Earn Her Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice From John Jay’s Online Program

N.Y. Secretary of State Rossana Rosado Will Earn Her Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice From John Jay’s Online Program

Our 2019 Commencement Ceremony is right around the corner. To mark the occasion, and celebrate the incredible achievements of our graduates, we spoke with several students about their experience at John Jay. Our hope is that their stories inspire the entire John Jay community—alumni, faculty, staff, current and prospective students—to strive for excellence. Very soon, New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado will be joining the John Jay community as an alumna after receiving her master’s degree in Criminal Justice. We sat down with Secretary Rosado to learn more about her experience taking online classes at John Jay and earning her master’s degree.

You have such an illustrious career. What made you decide to go back to school and earn your master’s degree in Criminal Justice?
I’ve been involved in the criminal justice arena for about 12 years. When I went to work for the State, I was actually in the room with people I never expected to be in the room with, who were running the system. They were running prisons. They were running the Division for Criminal Justice Services. I was at the table with the people running the system, but I had been kind of outside of that system. I taught in prisons, but I wanted to learn how to speak their language. I wanted to see the world the way they did.

“I wanted to be able to speak to the people who were running these systems in their language.” —Rossana Rosado

I realized that I saw the world differently from them. I spent many years in media, and in media you get a flavor for everything. You don’t have a deep dive in anything. You make the best dinner guest because you can talk about anything. I wanted a deep dive of knowledge about criminal justice because I was so passionate about the work that I was doing. I wanted to be able to speak to the people who were running these systems in their language.

“I’m on the Foundation Board of John Jay. I’m a professor on leave, and now, 34 years after getting my B.A. in Journalism, I’m an online student at John Jay getting used to Blackboard and the whole online learning environment.” —Rossana Rosado

You decided to enroll in John Jay’s online graduate degree program. Why was that the right decision for you?
There was this moment in my life when I realized, I’m Secretary of State, I’m traveling a lot, I’m in hotel rooms, and I want to get my master’s degree. So, I applied to the online master’s degree program. I’m on the Foundation Board of John Jay. I’m a professor on leave, and now, 34 years after getting my B.A. in Journalism, I’m an online student at John Jay getting used to Blackboard and the whole online learning environment. And I’m old—I’m older than everybody in the class—so it was a big adjustment, especially because I have a full-time job. I think online classes really address the way we live today. I can be online at 3:00 in the morning doing my assignments. The other thing I love about online classes is that a lot of the materials are made available on Blackboard. So you don’t have to go to the library. I think the online format gives students flexibility and freedom by not having to come on campus. I think it’s amazing. 

“I think the online format gives students flexibility and freedom by not having to come on campus. I think it’s amazing.” —Rossana Rosado

What was the biggest challenge for you?
Purposely putting myself in a situation where my experience, my rank, and my influence didn’t matter. There’s something that attracted me to that idea, but it was also challenging. At first, I was like, why do I have to cite other people? These are my opinions. I wanted to say, “I know about implicit bias. I know about the broken windows policy. I know these things, because I’m 56 years old.” But I’m in a class with 23-year-olds and 22-year-olds who just got their B.A.s, and the professors don’t care if you’re Secretary of State. You’re anonymous. You’re just another student and you follow the same rules. There’s no special accommodations because you’re Secretary of State. The only time there was an exception was during my first semester when Hurricane Maria hit and I was involved with the Governor. I sent an email to my professors saying, “I’m overwhelmed with what’s happening in Puerto Rico. I can’t stop crying, and I’m swept up into action with the Governor. I need an extension for these assignments.” Both professors were so understanding. I figured they googled me and figured out who I was.

“Without John Jay, I wouldn’t have my own kind of reentry.” —Rossana Rosado

Finish this sentence for me: Without John Jay…
Without John Jay, I wouldn’t have my own kind of reentry. I had this 30-year career in media, and I loved it. And then one day, I was just like, “I’m done.” I was very interested in reentry and working with people in prison. I taught at Green Haven. I taught at Sing Sing. And then when I was at John Jay, I taught at Otisville. I just loved this whole concept of helping people come back from prison. If it weren’t for John Jay, I would not have had a reentry, a reentry into society after a 30-year career in media. John Jay gave me the space when I was teaching to figure out how I was going to make a living in criminal justice. John Jay gave me the platform to think all that through. In exchange, I got to impact the students who were in my classroom, and it’s been wonderful. I am a Bloodhound, and I’m just always happy when I’m here.