MacKenzie Brown, BA '23

MacKenzie Brown, BA '23

Name: MacKenzie Brown 
Hometown: Rensselaer, NY
Major: Criminal Justice
Minor: Psychology
Program: 3+3 Program with Albany Law School 
Awards: Outstanding Senior Award; Equity 5K Social Justice Leadership Award; Great Dane Ambassador Award; Christine A. Bouchard Spirit Award; Sharron Beal Award Winner; Writing and Critical Inquiry Writing Contest Winner; Dean’s List; 4.0 Cumulative GPA 


What was one of the most meaningful experiences you had during your time at UAlbany in the criminal justice and 3+3 program?  

Each and every single criminal justice course that I took at the University at Albany was immensely helpful in deepening my love for and expanding my knowledge of law and the United States criminal justice system. As a result, at the end of my second year, I decided to use my passion and run for president of the Women in Law Association. I found the Women in Law Association during my first year and absolutely fell in love. During my time at UAlbany, I held positions as a general member, public relations chair, and president. Being a part of and leading this organization was one of the most rewarding things that I have ever done in my life and I owe a lot of that to the School of Criminal Justice for giving me the knowledge and support needed to actively participate in and lead this organization into what it is today.


Tell us about your time studying abroad and what knowledge, skills, and abilities did you develop as a result of this experience?  

I decided to study abroad in Swansea, Wales for the Spring 2023 semester. Studying abroad, especially as someone interested in criminal justice and law, has been so eye-opening for a multitude of reasons. Traveling to various different countries and watching their political, judicial, and cultural processes firsthand has been such a life-changing experience. I was even able to attend King Charles’ coronation, which was absolutely amazing to witness! I feel as though these unique experiences have given me a new sense of independence and pride for our United States’ government and justice system, as well as given me many new ideas on how I think the U.S. could improve certain laws, policies, and practices. Traveling abroad and seeing the “normal” of other places has allowed me to not only appreciate the United States’ way of doing things but also assess how we can change for the better. Perspective is everything and gaining a new one in Europe has been extremely helpful to me already and will serve me well in life moving forward. 


What specific skills or experiences through the program have prepared you for your transition to postgraduate employment? 

One thing that stood out to me about the School of Criminal Justice was the fact that most of the professors I have taken have been people who actually work or have worked in the realm of the class that they were teaching. They did not solely have the educational experience to teach the class, but they also had the practical experience to go with it. For instance, I took a policing course with an Albany policeman and a “crimes against children” course with a retired FBI agent who worked for 20+ years solving crimes against children. Having people who not only know the “book,” but also can tell you from experience how things work in real-life scenarios changed the game for me. It showed me that no matter how much training and preparation you have for a scenario, sometimes the only thing that works is trusting your gut. I believe that the ability to trust your gut is one of the most important skills that a lawyer can have. I also believe that hearing about the different cases and how they played out at both the local and federal levels gave me great insight into the true inner workings of each aspect of law from the committing of the crime, to the investigation, and so forth. Having these types of professors with true hands-on experience has more thoroughly prepared me for working in the criminal justice system. 


What kind of opportunities are you considering for post-graduate employment?  

As of now, my plan is to attend law school and obtain my JD from Albany Law School. However, I am not 100% set on which type of law I want to practice yet. Studying abroad has made me reconsider my options, as I have now seen that there are so many more fields of law than I could ever imagine. After I obtain my J.D., my plan is to practice for a couple of years and then possibly apply for a position in the FBI. I was inspired by one of my professors, David Fallon, who did this and it seems like a great path to take.  


What advice do you have for students who are considering or pursuing the 3+3 program?  

Study for the LSAT much sooner than later. Being a full-time student on top of participating in organizations and having a social life is time-consuming. Therefore, it is much easier to begin studying earlier on and break it down into smaller sections so that you are able to be more flexible with your time. You can stay on top of your grades, social life, etc., without burning yourself out too much by trying to study for the LSAT for hours on end, but also still wanting to be a great student and participate in the things that you love.