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Kaleikaumaka Cruz

Senior from Honolulu, Hawaii

On campus, Kalei is a member of the Criminal Justice Club and the secretary of STING Swing, the University’s west coast swing dance club. She completed an internship with the Honolulu Satellite Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) during her sophomore year, and her goal is to work in international crimes and security in the Asian-Pacific Rim.

Outside of class, Kalei enjoys drawing and dancing the hula, Hawaii’s cultural dance. More accustomed to sunny days and ocean breezes, Kalei saw snow for the first time in Waynesburg and is thankful to her friends who helped build her new winter wardrobe.

She loves sharing Hawaiian culture on campus, including foods such as li hing mui (Chinese salted plum powder) covered snacks and kakimochi popcorn, as well as weekly Hawaiian words on a white board with the English translation.

Kalei is the daughter of Beeper Nakamaejo, granddaughter of Vicente and Connie Cruz, sister of Mitsuko and Gavin Nakamaejo and niece of Champ Cruz.

What made you choose Waynesburg?

When asked, I like to joke and say Waynesburg chose me. When I was a sophomore in high school, I received an invitation from the University to attend CSI Camp the following summer. I had never heard of the University before, but I knew that I wanted to pursue a criminal justice degree on the east coast. So, the following summer, I attended camp and fell in love with Waynesburg University. Then I decided to attend in 2018. 

What is your major? What makes WU’s program special/ what do you like best about it?

My major is criminal justice administration. The program is educational, but also hands-on. It makes all the difference to be able to participate in practical exercises. Also, I am so grateful to have such supportive professors who genuinely care about their students. If anyone has any questions or needs help, our professors are always there. Finally, I adore the friends I have made. They have been so supportive, and we have grown so much together over the years. 

How have you grown while at Waynesburg University?

I have been able to grow as an individual. Having the opportunity to leave my hometown and be able to attend Waynesburg has pushed me to become the person I never thought I could be. This campus has offered me the opportunities and possibilities that have strengthened me mentally, physically and spiritually.  

What special opportunities have you had at WU and how did you grow through them?

I was able to have the opportunity to intern with the ATF my sophomore year. My professor, James Tanda, was able to connect me with the ATF office in Honolulu. I was able to work with real agents in the field, and I learned so much. Sadly, I was only able to work for a couple of months, due to COVID-19. Still, those few months made all the difference. Not many get to intern with the ATF, and I am truly grateful for being able to experience this opportunity.  

What are your professional goals/plans for the future, and how is WU helping you work toward them?

My professional goal is to work international crimes/security in the Asian-Pacific Rim. Academically, WU has taught and prepared me with the essentials to begin my career in the criminal justice field. Outside of the classroom, our department works hard to connect us with potential employers and internships. Every year, they plan a job fair, solely for Criminal Justice and Forensic Science majors, that allows us to meet and talk with varying potential employers from local, state and federal agencies.

Is there someone at WU who has been a mentor to you or who has had a positive influence on your life? Please tell us about them.

There have been so many people that have helped and blessed me during my time here at WU, and I forever will be grateful. An important person that has been a mentor is Mr. Robert (Bob) Barnhart. He has been a big supporter of mine, ever since I first stepped on campus for CSI Camp, in the Summer of 2016. I would have never known nor had the opportunity to attend WU, without him. Throughout my four years, he has always helped me and been a listening ear, no matter what was going on in my life. Whether it was school or home-related, he was always there to offer advice. I appreciate all that you have done for me. Mahalo nui loa (Thank you very much), Mr. Bob! 

What would you want a prospective student to know about WU? 

I would want them to know that there is no other place like WU. I would say that if you are thinking about attending, you should press the “Accept” button right now. If you are debating but leaning towards another university, I would say please reconsider. This campus is friendly and so supportive of all its students. There are so many opportunities and experiences that will help you grow, not only academically, but also as an individual. I have had the best four years of my life, and I know you will too, here at Waynesburg University.

Criminal Justice Administration

We merge the worlds of tactical skills and critical thinking, so you can be better prepared for various careers in criminal justice. Professors in the program are expert practitioners from the criminal justice field, and you will get hands-on training, utilizing cutting-edge technology starting your freshman year.