Two years of hard work and persistence earns recognition for senior

Imagine starting a very important project sophomore year to reap the rewards for it senior year. The consistent hours put into the project, along with the other classes taken overtime is a remarkable feat to accomplish.

This is the case for Julia Smith, a senior criminology and sociology major at Cabrini. She recently won the undergraduate student paper and poster award from the highly respected Division on Women and Crime from the American Society of Criminology.

Smith’s topic for her project was “Sexual Assault Prevention Education Effectiveness.” Her passion for women to stand up to the injustices of sexual assault became apparent after her own unfortunate experiences in high school. “In high school, I was severely sexually harassed by a few of my classmates,” Smith said. “I had to go through a similar process [at Cabrini], but I decided that I wanted to do something about it.”

Julia Smith is pictured with her poster which received the award from the American Society of Criminology’s Division of Women and Crime. Photo provided by Julia Smith

Smith wanted women to not feel helpless and forgotten when dealing with sexual offenses. “I took my personal experiences as motivation to discover the root of this problem,” Smith said. She says that one of the problems is “the sexual assault prevention programs that educational institutions provide to their students.”

The competition was at the national level and received numerous applications. “I don’t know the exact number of undergraduate students who submitted their research papers and posters to the competitions. However, they are national competitions, so it reached a large population of individuals,” Smith said. “The Division of Women and Crime sent out a call for submissions to their national list of members, one of which is my mentor and professor, Dr. Katie Farina.”

The ineffectiveness of programs she explains in her project helped shape her decision on the topic. Giving women a voice in situations like this is the main goal for Smith, especially with the emotional and physical pain that women across the country face.

Smith decided to major in criminology and sociology because she “wants to make a difference in this world and change the systems that actively work to silence certain populations within society.” Her dedication to wanting to mold a society better for everyone is shown in her work as well as what she does outside of the classroom.

She also says she “specifically chose criminology and sociology because I strongly connected with the social justice-based subject matter and the faculty members who teach within the department.” She added that the members are the absolute best.

Dr. Katie Farina, an associate professor and also a member of the American Society of Criminology, has also played a key part in Smith’s success. “I then sent it to Julia knowing that she had an excellent paper,” Smith said. Smith’s relationship with Dr. Farina is amazing as they both have respect and trust in each other.

Outside of criminology, Smith says she is very passionate “about activism and attending different advocacy opportunities.” Her involvement around the community only solidifies how respected she is on campus for her determination for social issues.

“Before the pandemic, I would regularly participate in demonstrations and marches throughout Philadelphia and Washington D.C.,” Smith said. “Now, I have moved to virtual activism so that I can remain as involved and educated as possible.”

Smith is also a puppy lover, as she has two puppies that she loves to take walks with and explore nature. “This is probably my biggest stress reliever, especially during the busy semester.” Smith also is “really interested in art” and tries to “paint whenever I get the free time to do it.”

Smith’s two years of research and effort into putting the project together will only help uplift her. Success will follow her way when she leaves Cabrini.