UWF in the Community

UWF alumna receives Southern Criminal Justice Association award

University of West Florida alumna Kati Andrews was recently named the recipient of the 2015 Outstanding Undergraduate Student award from the Southern Criminal Justice Association for her accomplishments at UWF. A committee from the association selected her from an array of nominees among criminal justice programs throughout the Southern region.

“I’ve been to their conferences before, so I know how many people are in the organization,” said Andrews, who received her dual-degree in criminal justice and social work in May 2015. “It was just really shocking to know that out of all the people that were nominated, I was chosen.”

Andrews decided to complement her pre-existing passion for social work after taking a criminology course that allowed her to ride-along with Escambia County police officers.

“I saw so much that broke my heart, but also so many things that actually made me love Pensacola as a community,” said Andrews. “I brought that back with me and looked into how I could help.”

After presenting her honors thesis, which examined the need for cooperation between law enforcement and social workers, Andrews and her work received recognition as the Best College of Education and Professional Studies Undergraduate Presentation, Best Student Project In Criminology and Criminal Justice and Most Outstanding Honors Thesis Award.

“When the SCJA’s call for nominations came out, the decision to nominate Kati for the Outstanding Undergraduate Student award was an easy one,” said Dr. Matthew Crow, criminology and criminal justice department chair.

Andrews was nominated for the award by her honors thesis advisor, Dr. Jamie Snyder, assistant professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Snyder’s nomination outlines Andrews’ dedication to her community, public service and passion for helping students and people in general.

“Kati performed extremely well in her classes and always went above and beyond what was required,” said Snyder. “Often, students choose to write a lengthy literature review on a topic of interest. Kati decided to take this opportunity to collect her own data and develop a highly involved research project.”

Inspired by personal experiences, Andrews wanted to make an impact in children’s lives. “I don’t want to just work to get a paycheck,” she said. “I want to work to make a difference in the world so that when I leave, somebody knows that they were loved, if they had never felt that before.”

She currently works as an adoptions counselor with FamiliesFirst Network in Pensacola. She works with children, helping them get adopted and find permanency while doing exactly what she wanted to do – making a difference.

The association will recognize Andrews at its 2015 national conference awards ceremony, held September 9-12 in Charleston, South Carolina. For more information about the Southern Criminal Justice Association, visit scja.net