Mai Naito, Ph.D.

  • University Honors Scholar, Spring 2009

In spring 2009, Mai Naito graduated from UWF as a University Honors Scholar with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and a minor in Sociology.  Now an assistant professor in the University of West Georgia’s Department of Criminology, Mai credits her experiences in Honors with providing important preparation for her career in academia.

“All in all, the Honors Program was very influential to my development and a springboard to my graduate career,” recalled Mai, who, after graduating from UWF, earned a master's degree in criminology at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2010.  Mai then worked as a Litigation Assistant with the Public Defender's Office of the First Judicial Circuit of Florida, and completed the doctoral program in criminal justice at Sam Houston State University in August 2014.

In addition to teaching at UWG, Mai also serves as the Director of Graduate Studies for the Master of Arts in Criminology program there, currently advising over 30 students on their paths to doctoral programs, law schools, or entry into careers in local, state, or federal agencies.

“Although the majority of my time is spent conducting research, preparing lectures, and keeping up with recent Supreme Court decisions, I try to explore various events around Atlanta, participate in community service, and occasionally drive the five hours to visit Pensacola to see my parents and friends,” wrote Mai of her current activities, adding that traveling is one of her favorite hobbies. “I was fortunate to visit Japan this past May to be reunited with my distant family members that I have not seen for 21 years.”

Happily for our program, one of Mai’s trips to Pensacola included speaking at the 2014 Honors Program Induction Ceremony at UWF where her journey in higher education began.

“The discipline I learned in Great Books was powerful,” Mai states of the ways in which the Honors program helped prepare her for graduate school. “We were provided with a lengthy list of classical readings to be completed in a short amount of time. As my first class at UWF, it helped me with time management, reading comprehension, and preparing for essay exams. Second, the Honors courses were smaller thus classroom discussion was more in depth, rather than a traditional lecture style. Not only did this help me in graduate school, but also how I conduct lectures in my own classroom.”