Photo of Baker College criminal justice student, MaKenna Mattimore.
Welcome to Baker College’s Spotlight feature, a series of brief interviews with notable Baker College students, faculty and alumni who are making news and reaching new heights in their educational and professional pursuits.
This edition of Spotlight features MaKenna Mattimore, who graduated in the spring of 2020 with a dual associate degree in Criminal Justice from Baker College and a high school diploma from Perry High School. This fall, MaKenna will begin her bachelor’s degree studies in Criminal Justice at Baker College of Owosso. MaKenna also has been lauded as one of the youngest interns ever to serve in the Genesee County Prosecutor's Office.
Baker College (BC): You are a graduate of Baker’s Early/Middle College Program, having recently earned both your high school diploma and an associate degree at the same time. Why did you choose that path, versus the more traditional high school to college route? Are you glad that you did?
MaKenna Mattimore (MM): I chose the Early/Middle College program for multiple reasons. The biggest one is that I was looking to avoid the challenges of drowning in student loan debt. I saved more than $24,000 toward my degree participating in the EMC program. I also felt like this path would help to ease my transition from high school to college, because I would already know what to expect.
I am extremely glad that I started and stuck with this program. I have learned so much, met so many amazing people and made a lot of great friendships. I could not be more grateful and appreciative for the Baker College EMC program and everyone that has a part in running it.
BC: You also are one of the youngest interns ever to serve in the Genesee County Prosecutor's Office. Tell us about that experience.
MM: My time spent at the Genesee County Prosecutor’s Office was the cherry on top of the program sundae! This was a great opportunity for me to get an inside look at how the court systems work and to really decide what career path I want to take with my degree.
Being so young and inexperienced, the staff was very helpful, patient and encouraging. I was able to get into the courtroom to observe proceedings, and even get involved in the behind-the-scenes work between paralegals and attorneys. I learned so much more beyond what you study in the classroom, and I wouldn’t trade that type of hands-on experience for anything.
BC: Your first academic year as a Baker College bachelor’s degree student isn’t yet underway, and you’ve already been elected as the Owosso Campus Criminal Justice Student Club president for the year. How did that come to be, and what are you hoping to achieve in your year as Club leader?
MM: Becoming president of the Criminal Justice Student Club happened fast. Because of COVID-19, there was a lot of chaos and uncertainty among students and their plans moving forward. I knew I was going to continue on with my studies, and I knew I would be able to handle the responsibility of the position, so I went for it! Because this is the first year of this club, I am hoping to get a good start and lay a solid foundation for future years.
BC: What drives your interest in Criminal Justice as a career path?
MM: Criminal Justice has always been interesting to me. The laws are constantly changing, so I will always be learning, and every situation is different and unique, which together ensure that I will not get bored with my career and it will continue to keep me on my toes.
BC: What degree do you plan to earn from Baker College? What are your career goals once you complete your bachelor’s degree from Baker?
MM: I don’t like to plan too far ahead. However, I know that I want to complete my bachelor’s degree at Baker College. I haven’t yet decided if I’ll stop there, or go on to apply to law school. Whatever my specific path beyond my degree, I’m already looking forward to it.
BC: Why did you choose Baker College?
MM: On a practical level, I chose Baker College because it is close to home and offered the most generous scholarship opportunity. But beyond that, I chose Baker College because they have some of the nicest and most caring professors. I also like the smaller class sizes, because you can ask more questions, have more discussions and better get to know everyone in your class, including the professors. You’re a person at Baker, not just another face in the room listening to a lecture.
BC: How do you feel your time in Baker College’s EMC program has contributed to your professional successes to date?
MM: Baker’s Early/Middle College Program has definitely put me on the track to success. I already have a degree, fresh out of high school! Throughout this program, I have been introduced to many successful people in different areas of the criminal justice field…connections which will always be good to have as I move forward in my career. This program also has taught me how to work as part of a team, and to trust my instincts. More importantly, it taught me that you don’t have to share blood to be family. To me, that is success.
BC: What best piece of advice would you share with current high school students?
MM: To the high school students considering or starting this program, I would say, “do it!” Don’t let the extra year on your diploma deter you…you can do it. And if you are struggling, the program offers free tutoring services. I am so thankful for this program…I have gained so much knowledge about the field and myself and have met so many new and wonderful people. To any students currently in the EMC program, I say, “keep pushing.” It will all be worth it when you get your dual degrees.
BC: What would you want others to know about Baker College?
MM: I want people to know that Baker College is very hands-on, allowing you to learn from more than just lectures. For example, my classes have been to multiple on-site visits to jails and various security levels of prisons. We went to the theater to watch a movie about our field, and had guest speakers talk about their real-life experiences relative to the film. Activities like MILO range training, defensive tactics training and role play exercises happen often. You will talk to police officers, firepersons, EMTs, corrections officers, lawyers and more. I was even CPR-certified my first year in the program. You honestly CANNOT beat the hands-on experience at Baker College.