Big accomplishments from Lewisburg native

Friday, May 16, 2014

By Jessica Moore

Staff Writer

Marshall County native, Natalie Ebolum, 25, will graduate from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York on Wednesday, May 28.

Ebolum graduated from Marshall County High School in May 2006. She was very involved by participating in many of the programs offered by MCHS at the time.

From there, she went on to attend the University of Tennessee Knoxville, where she graduated with a bachelor's degree in Sociology-Criminal Justice, and a bachelor's degree in Africana Studies with a minor in Political Science. She accomplished this while maintaining a 3.4 grade point average.

Ebolum will receive her master's degree in Criminal Justice, with a concentration in Investigative Techniques and Law and Legal Procedure, from John Jay College this month. She has accomplished all of this while maintaining a 3.91 grade point average.

Her master's thesis is called "Hustlenotics: The Motivations Within." In order to write this, Ebolum performed an ethnography field study, during which she interviewed former drug dealers about their involvements with drug dealing post-incarceration, in the urban areas across Tennessee. She is looking toward publication by the end of this year.

Ebolum has four different certifications in Protection and Private Security. She took a class on Juvenile Justice Program Evaluation. As part of this class, she worked with Community Based Alternative Programs, particularly the Osborne Association, to evaluate their effectiveness at reducing juvenile recidivism. Over the course of the semester she developed different evaluation protocol tools that have been used in helping to recreate a tool for New York City's Community Based Alternative to incarceration programs via the Pinkerton Foundation and the CUNY Research and Evaluation Center. After graduation she plans to join the CUNY Research and Evaluation Center Team as a research analyst. She will be helping to write reports and analyze field data on a $2 million gun-control project in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn, N.Y.

She is involved with several organizations including the Masters of Public Administration Student Association, the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Urban League, the American Sociological Association, as well as Alpha Phi Sigma (National Criminal Justice Honor Society).

She is currently working with the CASA program (Court Appointed Special Advocate) as a Family Search and Connect Program Coordinator. As part of this position, she locates and investigates family members of youth who have lost contact with their family due to being in the foster care system, and helps to reconnect youth with their family. For the spring semester she was given the opportunity to work as an Adjunct Professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, teaching a seminar on the major works in criminal justice. She plans to continue teaching there after graduation. Also after graduation she plans to continue to lobby and advocate for International Family Planning. She is excited to get the opportunity to travel, give her brain a much needed break, and work on personal business goals. She will return to her schooling in 2015 in an effort to obtain a degree in law.

Before moving to the Northeast, she lived in Dallas, Texas, for two years. She worked for her father as the administrator and director of Medicaid services, while helping him build his businesses. He owns two Medicare/Medicaid accredited home health agencies. During her free time in Dallas, she started a summer dance team in a low-income housing community. The idea behind it was to provide the youth with something progressive to do during the summer. This was a project she and those who participated thoroughly enjoyed together. Also during that time, she worked closely with her sorority on different community service projects across Dallas County.

After being asked who or what influenced her to get involved with criminal justice her answer was simply, " I used to watch 'New York Undercover' with my godmother, Louise Nelson, when I was about 8. Ever since then I have had a thing about advocating for justice and investigations. I love the theory behind why people commit crimes. I've never been into law enforcement, but I am interested in the oversight and administration of law enforcement agencies."

The best advice Ebolum has for someone considering post-secondary education is, "Make sure you are ready for the commitment. I don't believe in doing things halfway, so if you are going for the gold, get the gold. The first year is the most important. Your professors are your friends and they usually love what they do and take great appreciation for students who actually try; therefore build relationships with them."

"The best motivation came from working with the youth in Marshall County, Knoxville, Dallas, and currently in Newark, N.J. Their struggle and their circumstances that make their little lives difficult remind me that whatever I am going through, or whatever I find difficult, could always be worse. I find comfort in reading the Bible and staying grounded in the person I have grown to be," said Ebolum.

"As far as advice goes, I'm not really sure if anyone really advised me of anything. The constructive criticism that I got from my high school English teacher taught me to love reading and writing. My first boss from H&S No. 1, Sam Shelton, always told me that I would make it far in life because I had a "glow" that he'd never seen before. The fact that H&S even gave me a shot to work there when I was 15 was, in a way, life changing. I was working with a group of people that, without that job, I would have never been exposed to. The skills I learned there were so diverse that it prepared me for life in so many ways. The customers I interacted with on a day-to-day basis really taught me to be genuine and have an open perspective on everything. Having been the child of two diverse immigrants, and thinking of their own struggle here in America, pushed me the hardest. A combination of all of that is what I think about when times get hard and things seem impossible," she said, while reflecting on the road that led her to where she is today.