Student Profile - Miroslava Zendejas

Defending victims of violent crime

After observing the effects of domestic violence in her community, 21-year-old Miroslava Zendejas, a criminal justice major, has found her calling defending victims of violent crime.

Miroslava Zendejas“As a Mexican Immigrant I grew up underprivileged and in a hostile neighborhood,” Zendejas said. “After interacting with victims of violent crime or domestic violence, I realized that my passion was to bring peace to those victims and their families.”

Zendejas moved to Baytown with her family as an undocumented immigrant when she was in kindergarten, and from an early age she saw her status as a serious obstacle.

“I grew up with the precedent that I would not go to college and that I would live off of a menial job for the rest of my life. I was an illegal immigrant for 13 years living in fear and uncertainty because I did not know when my stay in the US would be terminated, or if I would even have the opportunity to go to college or work,” said Zendejas.

“Luckily, my senior year was filled with executive actions that changed my status and allowed me to go to college, and my hard work started to pay off.”

Now in her third year of college, Zendejas has already achieved senior credits and holds a 4.0 grade point average. She is pursuing a minor in legal studies with hopes to attend graduate or law school after graduating with her bachelors in May 2017.

She keeps busy as vice president of the Criminal Justice Student Association and member of Phi Kappa Phi, the McNair Scholars Program, the Pre-Law Society, Model United Nations and the Reaud Honors College, and by helping those in need through various community service projects.

Zendejas is excited to begin her next big step towards her future in criminal justice; she was selected to receive funding by the 2016 David J. Beck Fellowship for her proposal to intern at the Center for Homicide Research in Minneapolis in the summer.

 “I would be honored to go to Minneapolis to intern for the Center for Homicide Research in one of the many research programs that this prestigious institution offers in the summer initiatives,” said Zendejas in her proposal.

“I'll be doing things like analyzing homicide rates data, trends, conducting group and individual research on a daily basis and developing new technological, software, communication and research skills. This line of research can lead to innovative ways to prevent crime and promote a safer environment for citizens,” she said.

The internship will afford her the experience and networking she needs to prepare for her future career.

Though Zendejas puts countless hours into her education and future, she likes to relax and have fun on the weekends as much as any other college student.

“I am not just this boring girl who has her nose in books all day everyday. I enjoy dancing, kickboxing, cycling and the outdoors. I love going out and having fun with my friends and family,” she said.

Grateful for support towards her education, Zendejas said she owes part of her success to the many opportunities offered by Lamar University.

Through LU, she has participated in internship opportunities with the Beaumont Police Department and the District Attorney's Office for Jefferson County, received training for grad school under the McNair Scholar’s Program and will complete her summer research under the Beck Fellowship. She has also received the McMaster Honors Scholarship and the Tom F. and Ann D. Jones Honors Scholarship.

 “I would love to come back to Lamar to encourage students to follow their dreams and to work hard because it pays off. Hopefully, I will be able to create a scholarship for the CJ students and help underprivileged students, like myself, attain an education,” Zendejas said.

Zendejas also receives financial support through hometown scholarships from Baytown such as The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Lady of Guadalupe Alter Society.