"The most valuable lesson I have learned during my time in graduate school is the importance of connection. I have made friends for life during my time at SFU and they have helped me get through some of the hardest parts of my education - whether that is providing feedback, studying together, or just being there."

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Noah Norton

January 04, 2024

Criminology master's student in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Tell us a little about yourself, including what inspires you to learn and continue in your chosen field

I am a second-year Master's student studying group crime and academic integrity. I also play competitive video games, specifically Valorant, for SFU, as well as outside of school. I enjoy spending time with my family and going to the gym with my brother and friends. I used to play basketball recreationally, but since COVID I haven't been able to play as much but I'm hoping to play more in the new year. With respect to what inspires me to learn and continue in criminology, I would have to say it is the people. I work with the best people, not just friends either, but the best department. Everyone is so supportive of the work that you do and wants to see you succeed. You can stop and chat with anyone in the department to discuss your work, or life in general, and the connections you build inspire you to work harder.

Why did you choose to come to SFU?

I went to high school in British Columbia, and I knew that SFU was a good school - not just locally but nationally and internationally as well. So, when it came time to apply for universities, I only applied to SFU. I did not have the funds to go elsewhere in Canada, and SFU is the best school in BC with a criminology program, so I really put all my eggs in one basket but I am so thankful that it worked out.

How would you describe your research or your program to a family member?

My research is primarily focused on group crime, but I’m also interested in academic dishonesty. With respect to the former, research has demonstrated that a large number of crimes are committed by two or more people, and I am curious as to why that is the case - what specific mechanisms are going on within a group dynamic that tells the offenders that they can or should engage in an offence with other people? Is it the feeling of anonymity? Do they feel less likely to be caught? Less responsible if they are to be caught? These sorts of questions are what I have research and will continue to unpack in my Master's thesis. With respect to the latter, I am interested in how group crime mechanisms can be applied in the classroom to explain cases of academic integrity - or cheating. I am also interested in the ways in which cheating is rationalized by students and the ways in which students can cheat. Thankfully, I have been a part of projects that have explored all of these avenues together.

What three (3) keywords would you use to describe your research?

Groups, crime, theory

How have your courses, RA-ships, TA-ships, or non-academic school experiences contributed to your academic and/or professional development?

I have been lucky enough to be a part of several RA-ships and TA-ships that have exposed me to new ideas, new research, and new people that I never would have gotten if I had not applied. I discovered an interest in academic integrity by working with Dr. Sheri Fabian and SFU Transforming Inquiry into Learning and Teaching (TILT) in an RA-ship studying academic integrity violations during COVID. I also re-ignited a passion for teaching and helping students through my multiple TA-ships. I volunteered at SFU for 5 years with the FASS FaM program at the Surrey campus - a program where older students help first-years transition from high school to university. It was there where I was first encouraged by Rose Baik to teach students about university. I loved teaching and helping students in the FaM program, and that love only grew when I combined teaching with criminology. TA-ing has helped me discover that teaching may be a strong option as a career in my future.

Have you been the recipient of any major or donor-funded awards? If so, please tell us which ones and a little about how the awards have impacted your studies and/or research

I have been fortunate enough to receive funding from SSHRC, specifically the Canada Graduate Scholarship — Master’s program, as well as the BC Graduate Scholarship. I greatly appreciate these awards as they have given me more freedom to explore my research and flexibility in my work schedule during the, at times, tumultuous experience that is graduate school. I am truly thankful to the donors and the department for assisting me in my educational and research pursuits.

What have been the most valuable lessons you've learned along your graduate student journey (or in becoming a graduate student)?

The most valuable lesson I have learned during my time in graduate school is the importance of connection. I have made friends for life during my time at SFU and they have helped me get through some of the hardest parts of my education - whether that is providing feedback, studying together, or just being there. Having people you can count on will make graduate school feel far less isolating and daunting.

How do you approach networking and building connections in and outside of your academic community?

I am an inherently shy person, so networking and building connections is something I struggle with. I think the best advice I could give to someone who is looking to build their network and connections is to get involved. I have attended several conferences and talks with criminologists and professionals from across the globe - I sometimes get starstruck seeing the people who wrote my textbooks in undergrad - but if I never took the first step, I'd never meet them. Get out, get involved, just say hi.

If you could dedicate your research to anyone (past, present and/or future), who would that be and why?

I dedicate all my research to my parents, my brother, and my loving girlfriend, Helen. My parents are not sure what I do in grad school, or exactly what I'm studying but they support my nonetheless. My brother, Nick, talked me into applying to the School of Criminology so I guess I owe him just a little bit. My girlfriend, Helen, has been with me as I discovered my love for criminology as well as my desire to study it in grad school, and she is so supportive of any decision I make with respect to my future career and schooling. I dedicate all my work to these people. I would also like to thank Dr. Zachary Rowan, who was been an unwavering pillar of support over the last 3 years of work together. Dr. Rowan encouraged me to study criminology through the Honours program, as well as the Master's program, and supervised me along the way. Without him, I am unsure where I would be in my career.


Contact Noah:noahn@sfu.ca