The Trailblazers Program assists first generation college students majoring in Criminal Justice as they learn to navigate college life successfully. The focus is on providing peer mentorship, career guidance and internship placement, and access to academic tools and resources to first generation students. We connect students with representatives from a wide range of criminal justice agencies and with successful alumni who work in fields of interest to students.

First generation students mentees are partnered with first generation mentors based on background characteristics in an effort to help them navigate the college environment and to ease the transition into higher education. First generation mentors have been selected based on their successful acclimation to university life.


Darwin Morgan

Student Mentee Benefits

  • Individualized support — Mentees are partnered with upper-division Criminal Justice FGS students who will provide academic and social support throughout the semester. Mentors help provide social and cultural support for first generation college students.
  • Reduced financial pressures — Financial pressures of mentees may be reduced by having access to low or no-cost class textbooks and by helping students apply for scholarships.
  • Exposure to networking opportunities — Mentees learn about the university resources available to them. They are provided many opportunities to hear about career paths from professionals in the criminal justice field through panel discussions and career fairs.

Student Mentor Benefits

  • Elevate the learning environment — Through the mentors’ experiences, academic success, and the training they receive, mentors can help elevate the culture of learning on our campus.
  • Expand your social capital — Mentors are exposed to academic and professional personnel and resources that will make an impact in their mentees’ academic lives. Mentors will have the opportunity to interact more closely with criminal justice faculty members.
  • Build an impactful resume — Trailblazers is a unique experience, which will set mentors apart from other students. It will help mentors develop leadership and professional skills that are desired in the work place or in graduate school.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a first generation college student?

A first generation college student is a student whose parents did not graduate from college.

What are some of the differences between first generation and non-first generation college students?

First generation college students are disproportionately minorities. At UNLV, minority students account for over half of the total student population. First generation college students are less likely to be engaged in the academic environment and to live on campus, and are likely to work more hours off campus. They are less likely to engage with faculty and often rank themselves lower in assessments of self-confidence.

Why is there a focus on first generation college students?

First generation college students are more likely to drop out of college after their first year than non-first generation college students. They are also less likely to earn their Bachelor’s degrees nationally, compared to non-first generation students. First generation students often work more, engage less with on-campus extracurricular activities, and have less disposable income for daily living expenses (e.g., books and computers) compared to non-first generation students. UNLV has seen a rise in the attendance of first generation college students.

What are the requirements to become a Trailblazers Mentor?

Mentors must be first generation students with a declared criminal justice major. They must have completed the following courses: CRJ 104, CRJ 130, and CRJ 270. Mentors must have been enrolled at UNLV for at least 2 semesters and maintain an overall 3.0 GPA or higher at least maintained a 3.0 GPA or over the last two full semesters. Mentors must also be approved by a Department of Criminal Justice faculty member. They must be willing to mentor students in the following full semester after completing the Criminal Justice Peer Mentor Training class (CRJ 494X).

What is the process for mentoring students?

First, all peer mentors will register for and complete CRJ 494X (Criminal Justice Peer Mentor Training), which is a 3-credit upper-division CRJ elective course. In the following semester(s), all trained mentors will register for CRJ 495X (Peer Mentoring in Criminal Justice), a 2-credit upper-division CRJ elective, and will work with their mentees using strategies and tools learned in CRJ 494X. Mentors are able to repeat CRJ 495X up to 3 semesters, for a total of 6 credits.