Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 20th 2016 Contents 4 | WOW MAGAZINE
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt November 20, 2016
ricka Adams' childhood was filled with lovely
memories, like catching wabines in the river be-
hind her grandmother's house and jumping over
the wall into her grandfather's garden to get sugar-
cane. As she grew older, the world she knew evolved,
filled with crime and fear. It was this radical transfor-
mation of the region where she grew up that sparked
an interest in Ericka to become a criminologist.
"I grew up in Trinidad and Tobago, in a relatively safe
community. As I got older, I began to see how a once
safe and enjoyable community was devastated by vio-
lence. I became a criminologist to understand why those
things were occurring, and if possible, how to address
Today, her professional goal is to conduct research
that will help improve the lives of people in high crime
She is part of a team of United States based criminol-
ogists brought together by Dr. Edward Maguire, and se-
lected by the government of Trinidad and Tobago, to
conduct a program evaluation of Project Reason, a com-
munity-based violence reduction program currently
being implemented. Project Reason was developed in
Chicago (under the name Cure Violence) in 1995 and
replicated in various American cities.
She is also writing a book about crime and violence in
Trinidad and Tobago.
"The goal is to understand the origin of crime and vio-
lence in Trinidad and Tobago, how community residents
navigate and negotiate high crime communities, and the
government's role in addressing such violence," she says.
This Diego Martin Government Secondary School
alumnus, moved to New York at age eighteen, to live
with her mother and to attend college. She completed
her Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice at John Jay Col-
lege of Criminal Justice (CUNY), and her Master of Arts
and Doctor of Philosophy in Criminology, Law, and Jus-
tice at the University of Illinois at Chicago. While com-
pleting her doctorate, she met her husband Claudio who
was also completing his doctorate.
Today, she and Claudio live with their "intellectually
curious" daughter, Ayla in Naperville, Illinois. She is an
Assistant Professor at North Central College, a role she
has held for the past three years, passionately engaging
others to critically think about the criminal justice sys-
tem. Before this, she taught for four years at San José
State University in California.
"Education to me is not just about teaching a set of
skills and concepts, but rather engaging students in
ways that will achieve social justice and social change,"
While it may seem as though Ericka's story has pretty
much written itself, this small island girl with big dreams
has had to deal with bigotry and find the resilience
within, to rise above it.
"My first experience with discrimination in the US was
deeply troubling, because I had never experienced any-
thing like that in Trinidad and Tobago. Since I had limited
experience with race in the US, I understood that people
had encountered discrimination only abstractly. I was on
a Greyhound bus traveling from New York City to
Toronto to visit my maternal grandmother and aunt. At
one of the rest stops there was a man standing in the
aisle of the bus retrieving some belongings from his bag
in the overhead storage compartment. A woman asked
him to pass, he politely stepped aside, and immediately
resumed his position in the aisle."
"As I approached him, I said, "excuse me please" and
he turned around and aggressively shouted at me to
wait. There was so much animosity, disdain, and anger
in his voice that I froze. After about a minute, I exited
the bus wondering, "what just happened in there?" I felt
sad about this experience, and wondered why this per-
son would feel so comfortable and compelled to act so
belligerent with a complete stranger."
"Many argue that discrimination is a thing of the past,
and in certain respects it is true that improvements
have been made in the US. Perhaps this man had ex-
ceeded his let one person pass quota, or perhaps he was
in a bad mood, or perhaps he was just a grouchy person,
but treating a person of the same racial group kindly
and another person from a different group in such a
hateful manner gave me my first taste of the numerous
experiences I have encountered throughout the years in
She also points out that while, in some ways, things
grew up in Trinidad and
Tobago, in a relatively
safe community. As I got
older, I began to see how
"Ia once safe and enjoyable community was devastated by violence. I became a criminologist to
understand why those things were occurring, and if possible, how to address them."
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