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Tatiana Peña: First, To Serve

Tatiana Peña

At the age of 10, Tatiana Peña learned firsthand about the value—and the joy—of giving to the community when her family started a clothing drive and then donated the items to an orphanage in Mexico.

“That was the first time I experienced helping the community,” Tatiana says. “Since then, every chance we have, we try to get together with our family and friends to donate where needed.”

Fast forward 11 years and Tatiana is carrying those lessons into a career in criminology and justice studies.

“It means a lot to me to give back to others and I believe this degree and this career will allow me to serve the community,” she says.

After earning an AA in Administration of Justice from Miramar College, Tatiana transferred to CSUSM Temecula Campus for the BA in Criminology and Justice Studies. She was sold on the personalized nature of the program, from the close faculty contact to the cohort of students who progress through the entire degree together as a group in guaranteed classes.

“I really like the idea of having the same classes together,” she says. “It helps when we need to study or do homework, and it helps build relationships.”

Tatiana is helping build relationships in another way. When she discovered that the campus didn’t have a student organization for criminology, she founded the CRIM Society, which has about 15 inaugural members. Their first activity? Naturally, a project to serve the community. The students gathered to prepare packages of food, socks and gloves for the homeless, which Tatiana then distributed to individuals living on the street in San Diego.

When she graduates in 2021, Tatiana hopes to join a police force and then, in the end, to work for the FBI. She is inspired by family members in the police force and also by what she has learned in her studies at Miramar College and at CSUSM Temecula Campus. At Miramar, guest speakers from the Police Academy would share insights and advice with the criminal justice students, something Tatiana eventually hopes to incorporate into CRIM Society events in Temecula.

With just a year to go before she takes her first career step, Tatiana has many options, but she is sure of one thing. “Whatever I do, I want to end up in the FBI,” she says. “That’s my ultimate goal.”


For more information about the Criminology and Justice Studies program at CSUSM, please visit