Student Voices


Toria Messinger S. Wander copy Greg Costanzo
Toria Messinger

Being chosen as one of the 2015 Criminal Justice Graduate Lottery Scholarship recipients is an honor, and I am incredibly thankful for the support of the department and the privileges I have been given throughout my academic career. This opportunity will allow me to not only complete my MA, but will also aid me in the process of submitting my work for publication. I am overwhelmed by the generosity of the Criminal Justice Department, and will always be grateful for the key role that they have played in my educational journey.

When asked what this scholarship means to me, several things come to mind. Not only will I be able to pursue my education to the fullest, I will also have the opportunity to submit my writing for publication in an academic journal. Furthermore, my education has been promoted through a group effort, one that has supported and inspired me.   Ultimately, I have been blessed with an education that has provided me with a set of tools to employ relentlessly and authentically in my future career path.

Thank you to the Criminal Justice Department for your continued support and encouragement!

It means more than I can say!








Stephanie Wander

Making the decision to return to school and earn my Master’s Degree has been one of the most exciting decisions in my career thus far and Western Oregon University’s Criminal Justice program has continually fostered this excitement. I joined the CJ Master’s program in January 2015 and the support I have received from each of my professors and fellow WOU students has made this an amazing experience. Receiving the 2014 Criminal Justice Graduate Scholarship when I entered the program made the transition back to being a student a worry-free experience.

The Criminal Justice courses are of superior quality and engage me and each of my fellow students in critical thinking. Each course provides well-rounded and thought provoking material that encourages both micro and macro level attention to crime and criminality. Also, I have observed that the program offers a broad focus by addressing all parts of the criminal justice system including various aspects of crime and victimization and procedural factors such as law-enforcement and organizational and ethical concerns. I am confident that the education I am receiving from WOU’s CJ Master’s program has helped me to become a better criminologist and will continue to help me as I progress in my career.

I would be remiss if I did not give a huge THANK YOU to all of the Criminal Justice Department’s professors and staff for the continued encouragement and support they give me and each of my fellow students!

Greg Costanzo

In 2013 I sat down with my wife, Paula, and began planning the financial commitment it would take for me to attend graduate school. We quickly realized that the financial commitment would entail taking out a credit card for the sole purpose of funding my education. Although I was against the idea of putting my college on a credit card, Paula supported my goal and ultimately pushed me towards pursuing a Masters in Criminal Justice at Western Oregon University (WOU).Over the past two years I have been enrolled in the Master’s program at WOU. During this time I have grown both personally and professionally. I could never have imagined the thought provoking educational opportunities I have been exposed to. I have been in law enforcement for over twenty years, including four years serving my country in the United States Army. Both in civilian law enforcement, and the Military Police, I and have held assignments to include; Platoon Leader, Executive Officer, Motorcycle Officer, Special Weapons And Tactics (S.W.A.T.), K-9 Handler, and Bomb Technician. By far, the most enlightening and mentally stimulating experience I have had in my life has been the two years attending graduate school at WOU. Along with graduate school, I have been working full time for the Oregon State Police (OSP), raising four children, Brooke (16), Chance (12), Jennika (9), and Jace (7), and continue to be involved in my community in Southern Oregon. My current assignment with the OSP is working as a Bomb Technician assigned to the OSP Hazardous Devices Unit.

In 2015, I applied for the Graduate Lottery Scholarship and was later informed that I was chosen as a recipient. I could not wait to tell my wife that we could send a check into that rather large debt that has piled up over the past two years. I would like to personally say, “Thank You” to WOU for providing me with over six years of higher education. I forgot to mention that I did receive my bachelor’s degree from Western Oregon State College (WOSC) in 1994. Monmouth feels like my second home and the people associated with University have been somewhat like my extended family.

After graduating with my Master’s degree, I plan on giving back to those who decide a career in criminal justice is for them. I know that I would not have enjoyed any career as much as I have enjoyed my chosen path. I am truly honored to receive this scholarship money, it is much appreciated.