Nicole Bala

Portrait of Nicole Bala

2021 Award: The Outstanding Senior Student Award in Criminology
Major: Criminology, Sociology
Hometown: San Jose, CA
Extracurricular activities: Alpha Sigma Nu, CCE Campus Kitchens Student Leader


About the Award:

The Outstanding Senior Student Award in Criminology is awarded to honor an individual who demonstrates high academic achievement in their area of study (both in the classroom and outside), who can demonstrate an advanced understanding and ability to apply critical thinking within their field, has demonstrated their understanding of the complex issues of justice in their written work and who actively participates in community service.

More about Nicole

Future plans or career aspirations: 

Over the course of the next year, I will be doing a service-year with the St. Joseph Worker Program based in Los Angeles, CA, where I will be serving in the legal services department at Homeboy Industries. My plan, then, is to go to law school to study criminal law and hopefully pursue a career as a Public Defender/defense attorney.

How has your major contributed to your professional or personal development?

Criminology has taught me to question and search for what lies beyond the surface. There is a lot more to the criminal justice system than what meets the eye, so the ability to bravely peel back the curtains and critically analyze/critique all of the muck is a skill that I will carry with me forever. Studying Crim has also helped me develop a restorative justice mindset that I intend to bring with me and utilize not just in my career but also in other aspects of my life.

What has been your proudest or most significant accomplishment during your Gonzaga career?

In all honesty, my proudest accomplishment would have to be receiving this award. I have always struggled a lot with my self-confidence and because of that, I tend to fail sometimes at recognizing my growth, my potential, and my successes (both big and small). But as I sit here reflecting back on the past four years, I have realized just how far I have come in my educational and personal journey. I just want to thank the Crim faculty for believing in me and for helping me become the person that I am today.