Kaitlyn Egan is a senior at Westfield State and double majors in criminal justice and English, in addition to minoring in sociology. She is also in the Honors Program, and has been the Class of 2024’s President for all four years of her undergraduate journey. In addition to being part of the Student Government Association and tour guide program, Egan is a member of Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society, Alpha Phi Sigma, the criminal justice honor society, and the University’s women’s golf team.
Although originally enrolling as a social work major, Egan chose to pursue her passion for criminal justice. It wasn’t until she was approached by one of her English professors that she realized she also wanted to study English as well but had initially moved away from it due to a fear of being unsuccessful.
“There’s this widely known rhetoric that if you’re an English major, you’re either going to be a teacher or poor,” she said. “That’s been ingrained in my head. I accepted that because I didn’t know better, but you can do so much with it. It pairs with criminal justice very well. I’m grateful for my English professors and how they steered me in the right direction.”
Egan is part of the B.S./M.S. Criminal Justice 4+1 program, which offers an accelerated graduate experience and allows students to earn both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five years. After graduation, her goal is to obtain a paralegal certification and work in a law firm.
She’s been the recipient of several academic scholarships, including the Jerry Gravel Memorial scholarship, which recognizes sophomore students and their active community service while at Westfield State, and the Barbara A. “Katie” Welch Memorial scholarship, after Katie Welch, a former English professor who shared a love for the arts.
Jerry Gravel taught at the University for 30 years and taught in the Movement Science Department. Gravel also coached the track and field/cross country teams, as well. “It’s humbling,” Egan said about winning the scholarship. “It’s a gift. He’s known for being an exceptional leader and supporter. He cared about both his students and his athletes. He impacted so many people.”
Recipients for the Katie Welch scholarship include English or theater majors with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. They are required to submit a short essay on the role of literature and art in people’s lives and how it has shaped their stories. “To be validated in this way… I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
When applying to colleges, Egan knew she would attend Westfield State based its community and student-faculty ratio. “You really get to connect with your peers,” she said. “I’ve never had so many people care about me so much. I’m very blessed to have my parents and family, but as a student, it’s just amazing. They go out of their way to learn about you and your goals. I think it’s unique to Westfield State. I can’t imagine another university having that strength and connection with their students.”
The opportunities afforded to its students was also enticing. For the last four years, Egan has presented at the Northeast Regional Honors Conference, which is “an organization of students, faculty, and administrators dedicated to the encouragement and support of undergraduate honors learning.” In addition to speaking herself, Egan listened to accounts of other students on the northeastern coast and was presented with their research in turn.
“All of these doors open for you,” she said about the University. “It feels like I’m taking my education and doing what I want with it. My voice matters here. It makes all the difference for me.”