AdvisingArica Castleberry was appointed the Undergraduate Program Coordinator in the Advising Center.
As a criminal justice major at Sam Houston State University, Arica Castleberry wanted a career where she could help people reach their full potential. She discovered her calling back where she started – as the new Undergraduate Program Coordinator for the College of Criminal Justice Advising Center.
“I like working with people and helping them to learn how to solve problems,” said Castleberry. “You can’t solve everyone’s problems, but you can provide them with useful information at the time that they need it.”
Castleberry was a non-traditional student, a mother of three children who had taken a few classes through the years before deciding to complete her degree in just 18 months. She credits her advisor, Tessalyn Johnson, with becoming her ally in the process.
“When I walked in the door, I mattered,” said Castleberry. “Tess knew my history and my background. I felt like I had an ally to get it done. I believed it was not impossible, and I saw how we could get it done. She jumped through hoops to make it work.”
Castleberry plans to follow in her advisor’s footsteps. In fact, she now works for Johnson, who serves as Director of Student Services and Marketing for the College.
Castleberry began her career at Gulf Coast Trade Center, a juvenile justice program designed to increase the social and economic independence of disadvantaged youth. During 13 years with the agency, she worked in many positions, including dorm supervisor, administrative assistant, and teacher.
“I learned the importance of meeting the clients where they are and to help them to identify their needs and to be accountable and responsible for themselves as young adults,” Castleberry said.
She joined Sam Houston State University eight years ago as an academic adviser in the College of Education and later as a general advisor at the Sam Center, which caters to all majors at the university. As an academic advisor, Castleberry helps students to set personal goals, establish strategies to achieve objectives, enhance skills to sharpen academic accomplishments, and provide incentives to realize academic success. In advising, Castleberry said she anticipates the needs of the students and helps them to overcome obstacles on campus that would prevent them from graduating on time.
Three years ago, Castleberry joined SHSU Career Services, where she assisted students with career assessments, resumes, interviews, and career fairs. There she learned how to identify the strengths and challenges each student faces and how to best prepare them for the work force.
At the College of Criminal Justice, Castleberry will supervise the CJ Advising Office, which is the only college that has two professionals dedicated specifically to undergraduate students pursuing criminal justice or victim studies degrees. The office is open Monday through Friday, and appointments are required, with the exception of walk-in hours between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. daily.
In addition to assisting with advising, Castleberry manages the Criminal Justice Summer Camps, an opportunity for high school students to be exposed to different career options available with a criminal justice degree. Four summer camps are offered annually, which include speakers and hands-on activities on many different disciplines.
“Our College has top notch education and research, and I have applied what I learned here throughout my career,” said Castleberry. “It also is flexible enough so that you can have life outside of being a student.”