Air Force vet plans career in forensic psychology

Written on 05/18/2024
Danielle Rush, Communications Specialist, Indiana University Kokomo

IU Kokomo grad earns Bachelor's degrees in psychology, criminal justice

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Watching Law and Order: SVU inspired Bianca Miranda’s career choice.

“When I saw Dr. Huang, I did more research into what he did as a job,” she said of the character, a psychiatrist who works for the FBI as a liaison for the Special Victims Unit. “I figured I can do that as a forensic psychologist. I want to work with SVU and take care of victims of assault.”

She took the first steps toward that career by completing her bachelor’s degree in psychology and criminal justice this month at Indiana University Kokomo. Her next step is applying to graduate schools in forensic psychology.

It was a long road to a college degree for Miranda, who enlisted in the U.S. Air Force after graduating from Lake Central High School in Crown Point.

“I always wanted to go to college, but I had no idea how I was going to do it, and I didn’t want to go into debt,” she said, adding that she served six years in the military police. “My Air Force benefits paid for school, so that was one stressor I didn’t have to worry about. I’m graduating debt free, and I’m very grateful for that.”

She chose IU Kokomo for its professor to student ratio, because “it was small enough I could get my educational needs met, but big enough to get a full college experience,” she said.

Her experience included faculty who pushed her to try new experiences – such as presenting at the undergraduate research symposium – and supported her through challenges.

“They always made me feel like I was seen in the classroom,” Miranda said. “I wasn’t just that quiet kid in the back of the classroom like I normally am. My speech professor, Martha Warner, pushed me to do the research symposium my freshman year. I ended up going through the honors program because of that.”

She faced many challenges along the way, including balancing her work and school schedules. In addition to going to school full time, Miranda worked a full-time midnight shift.

“It’s been hard because I was always a full-time student, I always maxed out my classes,” she said. “The time management was hard until I met with my advisors. They gave me tips and talked about who I could meet with on campus. They pointed me in the right direction. I was getting super overwhelmed, and for a moment thought this wasn’t for me.”

Her biggest challenge was the birth of her daughter last year. She thought about taking a semester off, or finishing her degree online, but her professors encouraged her to keep working toward her degree.

“She’s my motivating factor,” Miranda said, because education will allow her to give her daughter a better life.

One of the best parts of her college experience was being involved with the Multicultural Center.

“When I first came here, initially I was super nervous, because Kokomo doesn’t have a lot of Hispanic people,” she said. “When I saw they had a whole student center for people like me, I felt really seen. They acknowledge the differences and celebrate them. It’s a place for people who are from multicultural backgrounds, and those who want to celebrate all cultures.”

Education is KEY at Indiana University Kokomo.