3690: A Journal of First-Year Student Research Writing

Author Image

Caitlyn Kenville Photo


APA, Criminal Justice, Ethics, Legal Studies


Overview: Aaron Phillips, a man from Pennsylvania, has been in prison for over three decades for a crime he committed when he was seventeen years old. When Aaron was seventeen, he and his friend stole and elderly man’s wallet and pushed him down in the process. Although the man was injured, he was up and walking after his injury. About two and a half weeks after the incident, the elderly man died from cardiac arrest, after having surgery to repair his fractured hip along with a separate intestinal surgery. Aaron was convicted of felony murder and tried as an adult. Despite entering the system as a teenager, Aaron was not given access to academic, vocational, or rehabilitative services because such services are only provided to inmates that will be released. Although Aaron has grown and matured since his offense, he will never be released from prison because he was sentenced to life without parole.

Author's Reflection: My name is Caitlyn Kenville and I graduated from Newark High School in 2016. I am currently majoring in nursing at St. John Fisher College. Upon graduation, I plan to continue my education as a graduate student to receive my master’s degree in nursing. Growing up, I always enjoyed writing and loved challenging myself to explore new opportunities. As a requirement, I took the research-based writing course during the spring semester of my freshmen year. Specifically, I signed up for the course based on the Juvenile Justice System. Throughout this course, I was able to learn everything from the history to the treatment of juveniles throughout the United States. When it came time to write the final research paper, my main focus was on rehabilitation in the juvenile justice system. Based on my research, I was able to find many reasons that supported the idea of a balanced system that involved both rehabilitation and accountability. The most challenging part about writing this paper was getting started. When I first entered the class, I knew very little about the juvenile justice system, so before I was able to start writing, I had to try and figure out what exactly it was that I wanted to research. I used documentaries, news articles, and classroom assignments to help guide my ideas for the paper. I enjoyed being able to broaden my knowledge and discuss ways to improve the system. Writing this paper was very rewarding because I was able to shed light on a serious issue that is often times kept in the dark.

Since taking the research-based writing course during my first year at St. John Fisher, I have continued to engage in other writing courses, including creative writing. This course provided me with many helpful tips that I have since carried with me. I strongly believe that this course has helped me become a stronger writer in all aspects. I learned the importance of “sandwiching quotes,” using transition words, proper formatting, and creating a well thought-out outline to guide me in the writing process. Furthermore, I learned how to write an effective thesis that remains the main focus throughout the entire paper. Overall, I enjoyed this class because it not only helped me to become a stronger writer, but it also expanded my knowledge on the juvenile justice system. I firmly believe that this course is important for all students who attend college, no matter their major.

Professor Snyder's Summary: Interestingly even though Caitlyn Kenville is a Nursing major, she found her way to my RW on Juvenile Justice. She had very little knowledge of the juvenile justice system, but she came to class with a love of writing. Throughout the semester, Caitlyn always put the extra effort in putting together a well-researched paper. The final product is the result of learning how to write a thesis, how to organize a research paper, and finally the art of revision.

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