Passionate about wrongful convictions and human rights advocacy, dreams of future as a lawyer.
By Adriana González Braniff
Kaitlyn Richards, well-known as the president of Simon Fraser University’s Criminology Student Association (CSA) for the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters, is graduating from SFU with a shining and positive legacy.
With the June 2021 Virtual Convocation right around the corner, SFU’s School of Criminology would like to share the experience of criminology undergraduate student, Kaitlyn Richards, as an excellent example of an outstanding, determined, and involved student and community member. She is a seven-time recipient of the SFU Dean’s Honour Roll, a four-time recipient of the SFU President’s Honour Roll and has also been nominated for several Convocation awards.
In addition to her dedication to academic studies, Richards’s key to success at SFU has been getting involved in the community. She loved her experience in the Criminology Student Association, where she started as the public relations director and then climbed the ranks to president. “We worked so well as a team, and I feel that we generated a strong community within the undergrads at the School of Criminology, even when faced with remote learning.” Her entire CSA experience and involvement were very rewarding for her, with one of the highlights being hosting the virtual Criminology Career Series in January 2021, where they raised over $700 for the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre.
Richards’s involvement within SFU goes beyond the CSA, as she was also a Writing and Learning Peer in the Student Learning Commons, and an Academics First Tutor. She enjoyed being around students who are driven not only to do well but to make an impact in the world following their studies. She believes these volunteer opportunities enriched her with many unique skills including leadership, communication, teamwork, and event planning, all of these helping her become a better person. “Once I joined the Student Learning Commons as a Writing and Learning Peer, and the Criminology Student Association, I had such a supportive group of people in my own personal education circle. Not only did this make me feel more connected to the school, but it motivated me to excel in my education journey as I was surrounded by other motivated people,” she said.
While Richards enjoyed all of her instructors and courses, her favorite ones were International Criminal Law (CRIM 414) and Wrongful Convictions and Other Miscarriages of Justice (CRIM 438). She loved engaging in discussions around the material and hearing from talented guest speakers. Even though she took those courses online, she believes her professors Melissa Gregg and Pamela Glatt, created an excellent learning environment.
As she fondly says goodbye to SFU, Richards continues her journey at the University of Victoria’s Faculty of Law this September, where she will pursue her juris doctorate. In the meantime, Richards volunteers for the International Wrongful Conviction Day Committee and has even started her own organization, “Wrongful Convictions Collective,” with other SFU students, faculty, and alumni. Fueled by her passion about wrongful convictions and human rights advocacy, Kaitlyn plans to continue that path in her future as a lawyer.
It’s fascinating: Although she knew she wanted to go into law one day, Richards didn’t know what a major in criminology was all about, or how rewarding it could be. Her success at SFU and bright future prove that the program at SFU’s School of Criminology is an excellent option for those interested in pursuing a career in law. As advice to new undergraduate students in her field, Richards encourages others to get involved, not be scared to go to advisors’ office hours, and connect with professors!