Student Spotlight: Michael Van Aken

Michael Van Aken

Degree: Master of Advanced Study in Criminology, Law and Society

Expected graduation: June 2018

Hometown: Colton, CA

Why did you choose the School of Social Ecology?

Not only does the school offer the MAS program, but the school is part of a prestigious university. With the many resources available, the School of Social Ecology allows me to continue my education with resources readily available and under the guidance of knowledgeable faculty. Specifically, the MAS program is an online program which allows me to complete my coursework anywhere and anytime. The convenience of an online program heightened my desire to select the School of Social Ecology and UCI for my graduate studies.

How did you grow interested in your current field of study? 

I grew interested in my field of study in high school when I was a member of the police explorer program. I learned many valuable lessons from police officers and my fellow explorers. I learned a lot about myself as well. Rather than take the direct route to a career in law enforcement, I wanted to continue my education in criminology. After earning my Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go to graduate school until I discovered the MAS program at UCI. 

What has been your most memorable or significant experience so far at UCI?

My most memorable experience so far at UCI has to have been the orientation week on campus. At the beginning of the MAS program, there is a week-long introduction class on campus. During this week, I got to meet several faculty members, university employees, and of course, the rest of my cohort. Many of us began to network and develop a cohort bond that is essential in completing a master’s program. Apart from most of the week being filled with lecture and writing, the introduction class was very fun and memorable!

How do you envision your degree from UCI opening doors for you or benefitting your career?

I hope to begin a career in probation very soon. Specifically, I want to work with youth at risk and young offenders to help them choose a better path in life. A master’s degree from UCI will hopefully open more doors for me and help me get into leadership positions. And if it calls to me, I could possibly continue my education towards that Ph.D. to someday teach and share my research.

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