Published: March 04, 2021
Criminology Major Finds Calling in Advocacy Work
The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay helps victims of sexual assault and domestic violence get back on their feet. Whether it be providing financial assistance, medical exams or victim advocacy, volunteers and staff at the center are available 24/7 to those in need.
Criminology and criminal justice major Jacqueline Zogby ’21 is currently in training to become one of those volunteers. Serving as a sexual assault victim advocate, she will help victims through some of their darkest times.
“I want to be able to empower victims [and] help them find their voices,” said Zogby. “I practice being an active listener, I want to hear their stories and provide them with as many resources as possible.”
Last semester, Zogby went through an interview and application process to start the proper training to become a volunteer and in December, she completed 30 hours of mandated online training. She is currently going through the orientation and shadowing process.
“Sometimes [the victims] just want support, perhaps they don’t know how to tell their family or maybe they want guidance and resources when it comes to reporting to law enforcement or pursuing other avenues within the court system,” said Zogby. “Each situation will be different.”
One of the roles Zogby will perform is supporting the victims when they choose to go through medical examinations where possible DNA evidence is preserved. She can also be there just to provide assistance, help develop safety plans, or provide education and resources on the legal process.
“It’s really difficult [for victims] to be exactly how they were before the traumatic event occurred because those are experiences they’ll never forget, but with the proper coping strategies and support, they can get closure and feel a sense of empowerment,” said Zogby.
Equipped To Make a Difference
Zogby said that in addition to the training for incoming volunteers, her experiences at UT — her criminology classes and involvement with the criminology club — have helped her feel equipped to make a difference.
Zogby’s honors tutorial and independent research projects — an exploration into the sexual objectification of women in society and a study on revenge porn and its impact on society — have allowed her to understand issues that might arise while working one-on-one with victims.
“I was just really shocked by the statistics,” which Zogby said she learned in her early criminology and criminal justice courses. “It’s something that always stood out to me, and I felt like I had to do something.”
With minors in law, justice and advocacy as well as philosophy, Zogby’s coursework has exposed her to the interrelated sectors of the criminal justice system — law enforcement, the courts and corrections — giving her a big-picture view of the broader context.
From Club to Career
Zogby wants to go to law school, a decision influenced by her coursework and experience with UT’s criminology club. She has been a member since 2017 and serves as the president this academic year. One of the highlights has been the club’s guest speakers who have spanned law enforcement, nonprofit organizations, the courts and corrections.
“It opens your perspective and gives you an idea of everything that there is to offer in many criminology and criminal justice careers you could go into,” said Zogby, who has held two internships at two law firms in the Tampa area. “I really enjoyed getting to learn and see what I’m passionate about.”
Outside of the criminology club, Zogby is also affiliated with the criminal justice honor society, Alpha Phi Sigma, the pre-law fraternity, Phi Alpha Delta, the American Society of Criminology, Phi Kappa Phi honor society and is in the Honors Program at UT. She also participates in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, volunteering on a student and faculty committee on systemic racism in the criminal justice system.
Zogby is also one of few UT students to be a member of the Jacob-Altenberd Inn of Court, which is a group of practicing lawyers in criminal appellate law, public defenders, assistant attorneys general, judges of Florida’s second district, professors from the Stetson University College of Law and students from UT and Stetson. The group meets monthly to discuss various issues and legal ethics while promoting professionalism and civility.
“To have that opportunity to not only network with Stetson students but also the Inn of Court is nice because you get to interact with individuals in the field and learn about various legal topics,” said Zogby, adding that all of her experiences have just reaffirmed her desire to pursue the field, especially in a human rights capacity.
“Helping people that way and advocating for people is important to me,” she said.
Story by Mallory Culhane '21, journalism major