“UTPB, that’s my go-to college.” –Lekiesha Doss, online criminal justice bachelor’s degree graduate   

Lekiesha Doss was what she believes her mother would’ve once called her “worst child.” “People didn’t expect me to make it,” she explained, “but I changed my life. My whole mindset.” Now a graduate of The University of Texas Permian Basin’s online Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice Studies program—a first-generation college graduate at that—Doss is enjoying a new career and a new outlook. 

Doss graciously offered some time from her busy schedule to explain why she transferred to UTPB from another university, which unique UTPB benefit helped her remain in the program despite financial challenges, and what her degree has done for her criminal justice career since graduation.  

UT Permian Basin Made a Degree Affordable 

Doss didn’t begin her bachelor’s-level studies at UTPB. “I did start off with another university. And after my first semester, I owed $2000-something. And it wasn’t because the classes are expensive, it’s the extra money they add on for library funds and the gym and everything else that I 100% didn’t even use. There was no help for me. I had to pray about it. I also changed my major because I’m like, you know what? The cost is too much. I looked around online and that’s how I found UTPB. It’s more affordable versus what the other colleges were telling me. The fees were maybe less than half the cost of the [other] university fees.” 

Financial Aid Runs Out, Falcon Free Fills in the Gap 

While Doss said that cost was the initial appeal, she only later came to realize just how affordable a UTPB education could be. “One thing I really liked about UTPB is [when] I ended up running out of financial aid, [UTPB] paid my tuition. That meant so much to me! My very last semester I ended up getting Falcon Free, and that was right on time. I mean, I literally had no more financial aid.” Available exclusively from UTPB, Falcon Free covers all bachelor’s degree tuition costs and mandatory fees for eligible Texas residents. 

From Graduation to a Gratifying Career 

Ten months after graduating from our program, Doss is six months into a satisfying career as a parole officer with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) and believes her degree played a large role in that. “You do have to have a bachelor’s degree in order to be a parole officer. My outlook on my career [now] is more beneficial to bettering TDCJ, helping clients, and being aware of criminal mindsets and patterns. I really enjoy the job. It really brings to life everything you learn in the books.”  

More Access to Peers and Professors Online 

Though Doss started college with a campus-based associate program, she ultimately found the online experience more enriching. “When I was in person, you have to kind of get to know folks and then you can possibly study together, or you go to the center where they have tutors. But I was working full time then. So, I would go to my classes early in the morning and then as soon as my classes were done, I would run off to work. I did not have time to meet my peers as much as I would have liked to, to receive additional help. 

“When I was doing class online [at UTPB], they started GroupMe, where we could chat and then sometimes we’d even exchange numbers. I had more access to my peers in short periods of time. Everyone was so open as far as the classmates and the professors. I didn’t have to hold my hand up and wait and hopefully they would call on me. [Help] was an e-mail away, a phone call away, or by setting up an appointment. I did really enjoy my peer support. We all had the same goals, the same mindset, and we all were there to support each other.” 

A Non-Criminal Justice Course With a Huge Impact  

One course Doss found especially useful was Interpersonal Communication. “It was really eye opening,” she said. “It really helps me in my everyday relationships but particularly in this career. When I was in my [parole officer] training, they’d tell us [we] have to learn to basically look at the client, look at his body language, up and down, without making it look like you’re looking at it. There’s so much I’ve learned that can be spoken without being spoken. People do little things when they’re lying. When I’m with a [parolee], I just go back to the book. I think nonverbal communication was the best portion.” 

Recommendations and Advice From a Successful Student and Professional  

Would Doss recommend our online criminal justice bachelor’s program to others? “I have and I do all the time because, just like me, a lot of people have to work and a lot of people I know can’t afford college. And I’m so happy to literally tell people, ‘Hey, I finished school online.’” Her advice? “Make sure you ask for help when it gets hard. Because it was hard sometimes. The professors are really helpful.” 

There’s also high employment potential with her degree, as Doss explained: “We are critically low in the state of Texas for parole officers. They are hiring, and as this is my first real job, my first real career, I would recommend anyone to start there.” 

Join Lekiesha Doss in experiencing an affordable, career-enhancing online education from UTPB! Get program details, request more information, and apply here.