Troy Edwards, Criminal Justice

How do you combine one’s love for making people feel happy and safe, a strong interest in travel (especially to places like the Bahamas) and a professional inclination toward law enforcement sparked by a week-long program at Stanford University? Well, let’s ask Criminal Justice senior Troy Edwards.  

“My plan right now is to work in law enforcement for a couple of years and then, ultimately, get into the Federal Air Marshals. That's my dream job right there because I love traveling and learning about the law and criminal justice,” Edwards, of Egg Harbor Township, said. “It’s a combination of love and work.”

Like many of his peers, Edwards had to first learn how to navigate a new (and virtual) environment as an Educational Opportunity Fund – Atlantic City student in 2020. Luckily, the program’s commitment to service learning led to a chance encounter with Heather Swenson-Brilla in the Stockton Center for Community Engagement & Service Learning, who introduced Edwards to their Homework Completion Program. After volunteering and tutoring middle school students, he soon found himself exploring more and more opportunities on campus, such as becoming a TALONS — Transition Activity Leaders of New Students.

“My friend was a TALONS, and I thought it would be a great idea to try it out,” Edwards shared. “I had a great time: I met a lot of incoming students and helped them out with classes and personal issues, referring them to correct resources and all that.” 

Out of all the opportunities he explored, the most impactful was attending the Deeper SPACES Retreat, a weekend program that gives students the tools necessary to facilitate on-campus conversations on social justice and equality with their peers. 

(The Deeper SPACES retreat) is a different experience every time you go... It's awesome getting to learn about people, what they're going through, how they perceive things in life and how to make everyone feel included." 

When he first heard about the retreat, he was hooked by the chance to camp with friends off campus. The day he signed up, he didn’t just get a camping trip: he gained meaningful connections, including one with the Stockton Entertainment Team’s former advisor, Shedia Laguer, who encouraged him to join and helped further his involvement on campus.

That experience led him to attend the retreat two more times, each one teaching him different lessons.

“It's a different experience every time you go. Even though we talk about the same subject each time, it's a different experience because you have a different group of people. It's awesome getting to learn about people, what they're going through, how they perceive things in life and how to make everyone feel included,” Edwards said.

The journey hasn’t been easy sailing for Edwards, who listed various obstacles that he had to tackle during his undergraduate career, including his grandmother falling ill, his car and laptop breaking down and even a knee injury.

“I know this sounds corny, but it’s like the ‘Rocky’ quote: it's not how hard you get hit – it's how hard you get hit and then get back up,” Edwards said. “It's all about moving forward. Obstacles are going to happen. It's a part of life. You just gotta keep going, and you can’t let that stop or prevent you from what you want to do.”

Edwards is going to miss everything about Stockton, even being incorrectly labeled an extrovert (“I’m actually very quiet around people I don’t know”). But if there’s one thing he could choose, it’s the connections that he’s made as a student.

“I’ll definitely miss making new connections with faculty and staff, like my boss Candace (Mitchell), Dr. (Ian) Bouie and Tom Itaas. I’m also going to miss meeting incoming students the most because I like making people smile and having conversations with them, even if I don’t initiate those conversations first.”