Q&A with Elite 50 winner Rahael Mathew, MSCJPS’17

Rahael Mathew

As a child growing up in India, Rahael Mathew described herself as “a sensible young lady with a hidden interest in the criminal mind.”

Mathew has been delving deep into that interest the past two years as a student in SPEA’s Master of Criminal Justice and Public Safety program. After receiving her undergraduate degree in mass communication and psychology from Jyoti Nivas College in her hometown of Bangalore, Mathew landed in Indianapolis in January 2015 eager to tackle her graduate education.

“I believe that around every corner is a mystery waiting to be unraveled, in each a new wisdom to be acquired,” Mathew said. “What counts is not the end but the journey. That’s why I believe in following my heart and mind, to plunge into the criminal justice system. To journey through its vastness and emerge; emerge to be that somebody who wasn’t too small to see justice shine through.”

Mathew was recently named to IUPUI’s Elite 50, the top one half of one percent of the graduate and professional student population, and will graduate in May as a member of the Alpha Phi Sigma Criminal Justice Honors Society.

What was your reaction upon hearing that you had been name to the Elite 50?

Wonder, and sheer delight! I was finally a proud Jaguar.

You’ve worked as a research assistant with Dr. Jody Sundt. Tell us about the work you’ve done with her and what impact it has had on your graduate education.

Working with Dr. Sundt has exposed me to a whole new world of research. Dr. Sundt’s research work in the field of corrections is nothing less than spectacular. I often find myself mulling over data and wondering what all of it means, only to later find out the significance of the work I was immersed in. I think the most exciting part of my work is watching statistics turn into theories.

What has been your favorite part about studying at SPEA?

Being a part of the SPEA family has been a splendid journey by itself. New to the United States, I often felt lost. However, my colleagues, professors, and especially my academic adviser Debbie Koliba, were always there to teach me the American way of life. My favorite part of studying at SPEA is thus the interaction with these wonderful intelligent people.

What’s on the horizon for you after graduation?

I would love to continue meeting new people, being a part of their lives, their journeys and to learn to respect the human mind and to sympathize to its unexplained acts. I want to journey through trials that will test my emotions and question my goals. But most importantly to understand the criminal justice system better while pursuing my Ph.D.