Student Profile - Cynthia Offordile
Criminal justice major reaches back home with research
For Cynthia Offordile, Lamar has become a home away from home. Originally from Nigeria, Offordile moved with her family to Houston at 15 to attain a dependable education.
“My Nigerian roots gave me a different perspective on life in regards to growing up and having that culture instilled in me, a certain set of morals and religion,” said Offordile. “It helped shape who I am today.”
Through participating in the African Student Association, Black Student Association, and the Multicultural Student Advisory Council, Offordile has embraced her heritage at Lamar.
“Being the person to teach others about the African American culture helped me stay connected with my roots,” said Offordile. “As the African representative for the Multicultural Student Advisory Council, I help international students assimilate into the U.S. culture.”
A criminal justice major, Offordile found a passion for the legal system when she came to Lamar.
“Growing up, I was actively involved with debate teams in high school,” Offordile said. “I chose criminal justice because it deals with the legal system as a whole, including the courts and law enforcement. I didn’t want to limit myself.”
In her junior year, Offordile applied for the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, which pairs faculty mentors with students to teach the research process and prepare them for graduate school.
“I saw the McNair program as an opportunity to expand research that I had begun in one of my classes,” Offordile said. “Coming from an African community where human trafficking is rampant, I felt that this was an important problem that needs to be investigated and exposed to the whole world. Human trafficking is a like a generational curse; it keeps repeating itself. It is the elephant in the room that everyone recognizes but choose to ignore it.”
Offordile said having assistant professor of criminal justice Dr. Sanaz Alasti as her McNair faculty mentor kept her hunger for knowledge growing and proved to be an immeasurable help.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor. Dr. Alasti and I share a common ground since we both come from international backgrounds, her coming from Iran and I from Nigeria,” Offordile said. “She exposed me to different resources and even supplied all the materials I used for my research this summer. She is also pushing me to get my work published, which is encouraging.”
Offordile’s research project titled “Stuck in Traffic,” is a comparative study of U.S. and Nigerian laws addressing human trafficking as a global epidemic.
“Growing up, I would hear stories from my family about close relatives who were victims trafficked from Nigeria abroad,” Offordile said. “Hearing stories as a child, it never made sense to me. As an adult, I have been able to piece this puzzle together. Human trafficking is one major crime that is crippling major African countries.
“Human trafficking is a gateway crime to other forms of illegal trafficking that most of the public is not aware of. In my research, I examine how the different legislative pieces are similar and how they differ, as well as the role of culture in executing these legislations.”
Through the McNair Scholars program, Offordile said she discovered that she enjoys researching.
“Learning about the procedures of research in class and conducting the research yourself are two different processes,” Offordile said. “I found out a lot of factors that I didn’t know were a part of researching. The McNair program gave me a real-life application of what research entails.”
Offordile presented her research to the public at the McNair Scholars Annual Research Symposium earlier this semester.
“I am so excited to get to share my hard work,” Offordile said. “Human trafficking is a sensitive topic that is often overlooked, and I have the ability to educate others on this issue.”
Following graduation, Offordile plans to continue her research on human trafficking.
“After this McNair research, I want to stay updated with the status of human trafficking,” Offordile said. “There is a stigma about human trafficking that leaves no help available for victims. I would like to additionally break down the legislative pieces and find solutions.”
In addition to her work in the McNair program, Offordile is an academic mentor for the Criminal Justice Student Association after serving as 2012-2013 president. She also served as fundraising chair, secretary, vice president, and president of the African Student Association. She is also a member and two-time past president of Alpha Phi Sigma, the national criminal justice honor society. She served as junior and senior class senator for the Student Government Association and was a choir member for two years in the Catholic Student Ministry. Currently, Offordile is a member of Pi Delta Phi, the French national honor society.
“My involvement in these organizations highlighted both my strengths and weaknesses,” Offordile said. “Not only did my participation make me a good team player, but through my officer roles, I learned what it means to be a leader.”
When Offordile isn’t hard at work on her research, she works as a Community Leader at Cardinal Village Combs Hall.
“Working on campus has helped me improve my customer service skills and learn how to be professional at all times,” Offordile said. “Also, I have discovered how to work with change. It is essential in life to be adaptive.”
When she arrived at Lamar, Offordile was shocked to see the diversity throughout campus. “There is such a rich culture here,” Offordile said. “It is such a close-knit community. I even got to meet other people with the same ethnic heritage as myself.”
Offordile said through her experiences at Lamar, such as presenting her research at the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences 50th Annual Meeting last semester in Dallas, she has blossomed into a phenomenal individual.
“It was definitely a pleasure being the first student from Lamar University to present among these incredible professors and professionals” Offordile said. “While at Lamar, I have transformed from an introvert to someone who is comfortable being social, I am not a natural born leader, but Lamar molded me into one.”
Offordile hopes to go further with her research by seeking an internship in the spring with Invisible Children, a non-governmental organization that fights against child trafficking, as well as seeking an internship with the United Nations.
“I want to intern with the United Nations as a student ambassador to see how policies concerning human trafficking operate internationally,” Offordile said. “In the future, I would ultimately love to become a United Nations ambassador.”
After graduation, Offordile plans to pursue a master’s degree in international relations, preferably abroad, before she attends law school.
Attending Lamar has provided Offordile a direction for the future and instilled a passion for research while promoting self-confidence.
“Being at Lamar exposed me to what I am interested in,” Offordile said. “My education here has been an eye-opener. The combination of learning, building relationships with professors, and participating in organizations solidified the direction I want to pursue.”