Do you work in the victim advocacy or criminal justice industry or know someone who does? Current senior Taylor Jennings dreams of serving as a source of knowledge and compassion for those who have been a victim or witness of a crime, as a victim-witness advocate. She would love your advice about the best places to work, training that might be useful, or any other insights that you may want to offer.

Taylor is a current criminal justice/criminology major with a minor in sociology. Her dream job is to work as a victim-witness advocate for a local or state agency. Graduating this May, Taylor is looking for a job and became interested in the victim advocacy realm after completing an internship this past summer in Campbell County, Virginia. She elaborated on her decision, saying “I am fortunate enough that I had a really great childhood growing up and didn’t experience the criminal justice or court systems… but I can also acknowledge that there are plenty of children and adults who don’t have that fortune.” She admitted, some of those less-fortunate children and even adults, were citizens she interacted with and worked on behalf of this past summer.

She continued, “Growing up, my Mom and Dad taught my sister and I to help people, and I want to be that resource and aid for someone else… I think it takes a special person to fill these kinds of roles, and I love working with people and helping them through what can be a really trying time for a lot of people.” As Taylor spoke of this desire, her passion was nearly tangible, even through the computer screen.

Taylor was interested in Longwood beginning her junior year of high school when most students start exploring their options. She explained that she originally wanted to go out-of-state but after considering the cost and distance, began touring schools here in Virginia. “When I first toured campus, it was amazing… it was far enough away from home but close enough, the campus is accessible and I wanted my professors to know my name,” she explained; “I wanted to be more than just a number, and here I am.”

In addition to her academic work, Taylor has also gained useful experiences from a host of organizations she is involved with. She joined the Rotunda, Longwood’s student-run newspaper as a sophomore, and has served as their social media editor. She is the current Director of the Big Event, a concerted effort at day-long acts of service in the local community, a member and the Secretary of Lambda Alpha Epsilon, the criminal justice academic fraternity, and she is a member of S.E.A.L. (Student Educators for Active Leadership) and is now their Treasurer. To say she keeps busy would be an understatement.

If Taylor could thank one person from her time at Longwood, it would have to be Dr. Virginia Beard, associate professor of criminal justice, because as Taylor exclaimed, “she is all around wonderful!” Taylor continued praising Dr. Beard by saying “She is accessible to her students, she knows the content inside and out, and she has been a great resource for my fellow seniors and me as we dive into the job search.” And Taylor’s favorite class you ask? That would be CRIM295: Murder and Killing Culture with Dr. Corey Call because “he [Call] is one of the first professors I had when I joined the criminal justice program and we developed an amazing relationship from the beginning. He incorporates so many interesting points into his classes,” Taylor explained. 

For Taylor, as for most, her passion and desire to help others is what pushes her to do and be her best. “I want to be the most knowledgeable person in the field and the best advocate for my clients… on the other hand, my family drives me each day and they encourage me and love me and keep me going,” she explained. Defining success, in her opinion, is about seeking and finding true happiness in both the work she does and in the lives she can positively impact. “With the field I want to go into, each victim or witness that I am assigned deserves the best care and help I can offer… I want all of those people to know that I am giving it my best and my all, and that I am honored to be able to work with them,” she confirmed.

Consider connecting with Taylor on LinkedIn and share your advice and any job opportunities that could be available to her after graduation.

About the Author

Dustyn Hall ‘18

Dustyn Hall '18 is the Director of Young Alumni & Student Giving in the Office of Institutional Advancement, and has served in that role since July 2019. Before his current service at Longwood began, Dustyn worked for Phi Mu Delta National Fraternity & Educational Foundation as the Director of Advancement, where he oversaw the development, communications, and alumni engagement sectors of their operations.

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