Katherine C. Gomez
College:College of Community Innovation and Education
Degree Program:Public Affairs PhD, Criminal Justice Track
Research Focus:Juveniles with sexually-related offenses, interventions to stop human trafficking, and youth who identify as part of the LGBTQI community.
Katherine C. Gomez is already well-established in her field – when she began her doctoral studies at UCF, she was a Senior Juvenile Probation Officer in the Tampa Bay area for the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (FDJJ), and has since accepted several promotions, leading to her current role as the Director of Human Trafficking, working at FDJJ’s headquarters in Tallahassee. At UCF, Gomez is a doctoral student in the public affairs program, pursuing the criminal justice track.
Gomez’s professional experiences have driven her research interests, which include juveniles with sexually-related offenses, interventions to stop human trafficking, and youth who identify as part of the LGBTQI community. Gomez explains that trauma plays an important role in youth development, and that it is something that must be explored through interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research. This need for an interdisciplinary program led Gomez to study at UCF, because, as Gomez says, she “wanted an interdisciplinary program that would allow me to take a holistic view of social issues. I wanted to learn to conduct sound research that could help me to make better, more informed policy recommendations and policy decisions.” Now, as a student, Gomez’s favorite part of her program is that it has taught her to assess issues through the eyes of multiple stakeholders, as well as through the lenses of multiple academic perspectives.
One difficult aspect of her studies has been the long commute between Tampa Bay and Orlando. Gomez credits her supportive network of classmates-turned-friends for helping her, and appreciates that they all help one another through tough classes, stressful exams, and lengthy dissertations. As Gomez says, “Even though I’m not yet finished with my dissertation, I feel supported and inspired to finish the PhD and continue making a difference turning around the lives of troubled youth in Florida.”
- Director of Human Trafficking at the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice
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