“I wanted to see what things were like from the other side of the bench,” he says. So he enrolled at County College of Morris (CCM) to study criminal justice.
A native of Dover, Chavarriaga found that his enthusiasm grew more with every class. “It was awesome. The professors at CCM really brought out the cool, exciting aspects of the field. We learned every aspect of law enforcement from the crime scene to incarceration.”
Among the subjects covered were how to pick up latent fingerprints, the nature of crime and deviance, its impact upon society and society’s reaction to criminal and deviant behavior as well as how certain organizations, such as the Innocence Project, work to overturn wrongful convictions.
One of the most important skills he polished during his time at CCM was his writing. “In law enforcement, about 90 percent of the job involves writing, so it’s a significant tool of the job.” A major factor in choosing CCM for his studies was the ability to transfer his degree to a four-year school without losing credits. After his graduation in 2014, he went on to study at Rutgers University in New Brunswick.
“All my credits transferred,” he says. “I wanted to continue my degree and Rutgers has one of the best programs.” He will be graduating in May 2017 with a degree in criminal justice and political science. He hopes to get a job in the Morris County Prosecutor’s office after graduation so he can continue on to law school.
“In five years, I would like to be working for a law firm,” he says. “I’m not sure what area of law I want to study, but after I get to law school I’ll have a better idea of where I want to go.”