Past trauma drives WSU criminal justice graduate's future

David Gonzalez grew up in a world where substance abuse among loved ones was not uncommon. Now he’s using those formative experiences to propel his educational and career goals.

“I had family members that would abuse alcohol and prescription drugs,” said Gonzalez, a recent graduate of Weber State University. “Being surrounded by all of that definitely shaped why I wanted to study criminal justice.”

Gonzalez said his parents always pushed the importance of education, but getting started felt daunting: “There’s an intimidation factor with starting college.” 

Thankfully, GEAR UP advisors guided him through the application and financial aid process, while the Wildcat Scholars program provided mentorship and connected him to other students from diverse backgrounds.

“Thinking back on my first year of college, within those first few months, I felt really accomplished being a first-generation student pursuing higher education,” he said. 

During his time at Weber, he maintained a high GPA, and gained the knowledge and skills to take on a world of employment opportunities.

“Weber State is the reason I got my internship,” he said. “It’s been a big part of putting me where I want to be.” 

Gonzalez interned with the U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services System, where he gained insight on the federal courts that he’s interested in working for someday. He also works part time at a sheriff’s office, where he interacts with inmates.

“In the long term, I do have an interest in helping people who struggle with drug or alcohol abuse, and I’ll bring unique insight to that because of my background,” he said.

But first, Gonzalez wants to pursue a master’s degree in social work, gain more work experience and continue forging professional relationships. 

“I always had a good support system at Weber State,” Gonzalez said. “I know I want to help others, and I believe I’m on the right path, as long as I keep gaining more experience and asking questions.”


Bryan Magaña, public relations director


Bryan Magaña, public relations director