Major: Justice Studies
Life experiences are what first interested Ebra Buah in criminal justice.
“I was born into a community where it was not uncommon to be a justice-impacted person,” she said. “Whether it was incarceration, probation or the overall fear of police, there was a constant stronghold in my community, and I wanted to further understand this system that had debilitated so many around me.”
Buah enrolled at a four-year university but did not feel supported on her academic journey. After leaving school and becoming a mother, she faced several challenges before deciding to return to college.
“When I was a young single parent, I found stability at a program called Jubilee Village, a transitional housing program for mothers who may be at risk of homelessness,” she said. “With the help of a caseworker and the Jensen family, I was able to apply to College of DuPage and further my education to accomplish some of the goals I had set.”
COD offers an encouraging community that acknowledges diverse experiences and values equity building, not just in DuPage County but throughout the state of Illinois.
She found smaller class sizes, which allowed her to focus on the curriculum, and received more academic support from her professors. She also got involved on campus and became president of the Academy of Law and Criminal Justice Club.
“I worked closely under Professor Tauya Forst to host events pertaining to careers in the criminal justice and legal fields,” she said. “On a personal level, COD's counseling services were available to me following the untimely death of my mother. The counseling services and my professors offered an abundance of support personally and academically during that difficult time period of my life.”
After earning her Associate in Arts degree with a focus on justice studies, she transferred to Western Illinois University, where she is earning her bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a minor in Law Enforcement and Justice Administration. She will be the first student to complete this degree through a new online program.
While at Western, Buah participated in Model Congress events with students from universities from across the state and in the Fair Housing Law course at the University of Illinois at Chicago John Marshall Law School. She also was excited to work as a policy intern with Illinois Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton’s Justice, Equity and Opportunity team.
“This position made room for my personal experiences, as well as the skills gained at COD, to contribute to important research and recommendations for the state of Illinois,” she said. “These many experiences I have had at Western Illinois University have been invaluable, and they have significantly impacted the trajectory of my life and views about the criminal justice system. I encourage students to talk to faculty and professors about your career goal, because none of this would have been possible without support, recommendations and the connections I have made with people at College of DuPage and Western Illinois University.”
Buah’s ultimate career goal is to become a lawyer, and she has started the application process with several schools.
“I want to create long-lasting, equitable solutions for marginalized communities throughout the country, in whatever capacity that I can,” she said.
As for COD, Buah advises students in the Justice Studies program to take the necessary time to build their foundation.
“COD offers an encouraging community that acknowledges diverse experiences and values equity building, not just in DuPage County but throughout the state of Illinois,” she said. “The Justice Studies program can open the door for many opportunities that you may have never considered in the field, so keep an open and healthy mind for your future endeavors.
“It is never too late to start a new career or go back to school. Life is filled with many chances and restarts, and we never know where it will truly take us. But a professor at COD always reminds me that ‘delayed does not mean denied.’”