Class of 2024 Graduate Alana Tinsley Solidified Career Choice through Transfer to HFU

In the Holy Family University Stevenson Lane dorm room of Alana Tinsley, there is decorative ivy adorning the walls and ceiling. Amazon ivy that she purchased and positioned, but ivy nonetheless. It is the only greenery you will see around the senior criminal justice major, because there is certainly no grass growing under her feet.

After transferring into HFU following two years at another Philadelphia school, the West Philadelphia native has thrived in the program’s small classes, grown through the school’s internship placement, and is in active and relentless pursuit of her destiny.

“I loved how Holy Family explained the criminal justice program when I came here, because I have been interested in criminal justice since high school.” said Tinsley, the soon-to-be first in her family to  graduate from college.  “My high school teachers at One Bright Ray Community High School talked a lot about lawyers, especially the advocacy part, and that really intrigued me. I just loved all of it.  I knew I had to do something related to criminal justice.  The HFU career program also really struck my interest.”

After enrolling, Tinsley dove into the major, through courses including criminology, criminal profiling, corrections, research methods, and her favorite, courts and procedures. 

“We had two professors who were husband and wife. She was a prosecutor and was a really great teacher,” she said . “That class just really helped me determine what I wanted to do, it helped me confirm that I definitely wanted to be a lawyer.”

But it was her recent internship with The Sentencing Foundation has been life-changing.  A crime reduction program that provides re-entry resources to criminal justice-involved individuals (regardless of whether or not actually incarcerated), The Sentencing Foundation connects criminal court sentencing judges with networks of cost-free resources, including mental health support, substance abuse guidance, educational and vocational training, employment opportunities, and short-term and long-term housing solutions. With the mission of reducing recidivism, the Foundation fosters a trust-enhancing relationship between the judge and the defendant, thereby reducing the likelihood of reoffending and mass incarceration.

“The internship was really interesting,” said Tinsley.  “I didn’t even know this existed until my internship specialist pointed this out to me and set me up with them.”

As an intern, Tinsley supported Judge Stephanie Sawyer in her court room and at networking events, resource fairs and speaking engagements in a number of capacities.

“It is really fast-paced in there” said of the courtroom at the Municipal Courthouse on Filbert Street where she interned and continues to volunteer.  “I basically did whatever the judge asked of me – printing out summaries of defendants’ files, helping her distribute resources for defendants who needed parenting resources, GED information, or other information from a file of resources.

“I learned a lot through being in court every day,” Tinsley continued. “I learned the importance of time management and professionalism. From Judge Sawyer, I learned the importance of communication skills, learning how to speak with and network with other people. I loved working with her. She was very relatable and took time to talk to me about law school. I really enjoyed being there with her.”

On May 18, Tinsley will walk across the stage to collect her HFU diploma, to the delight of her proud family, and will find herself at Drexel University two days later in a free, three-week immersive program with other aspiring law students, gaining valuable information on preparing for the LSATs and for potential careers in law.
She also is enrolling in Holy Family’s master’s program in counseling psychology, a two-year program that undoubtedly will be beneficial in her career aspirations.

“I feel like getting this master’s degree definitely will aid me in law school, because I will have learned how to actively listen to what an individual is saying,” she said. “I am leaning toward a career in juvenile or criminal law. I know I have a lot of work ahead of me, but I feel I am prepared for the next step because of the foundation that I received here.”



Jan Giel