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Twins Jasmin and Jaquelin Amaya Set to Graduate from UHD

Jasmine and Jacqueline Amaya have spent their entire lives side by side. The twin sisters have been nearly inseparable since birth, sharing life experiences as best friends and sisters. They have also been classmates, gaining classroom knowledge that will support their career goals.

On December 18, they’ll be side by side again during another transformative moment – their University of Houston graduation – downtown. The two sisters will be among more than 2,500 Gator alumni with degrees on this day.

This dual diploma celebration will be a very important occasion for the first generation graduates, both of whom will receive a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice.

“Our family is very excited about our graduation,” said Yasmine Amaya, the older sister (by two minutes). “Our mother and grandmother have been planning a graduation party for months. We are the first in our family to graduate, so this is an important moment for us.”

Their path to UHD was paved while attending the Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy in Houston. One day, representatives from the university arrived on campus to highlight its performances for seniors. The Amayas loved what they heard and UHD became their top pick for college. It was affordable, close to home, and had an academic program that both sisters liked—criminal justice.

“It’s something we’ve always been interested in,” said Yasmine Amaya. “Reading about law enforcement and watching different shows and movies helped spark our interest in learning more about criminal justice.”

During their time at UHD, the two sisters were members of UHD’s Scene Investi-Gators. This team of students learned the ins and outs of crime scene investigations from Professors Dr. Elizabeth Gilmore and Dr. Kevin Buckler and competed at the Southwest Criminal Justice Association meeting held in Houston in 2019. Along with their many criminal justice peers, they gained invaluable insights into How to secure the crime scene, handling and documenting evidence, and other necessary tasks necessary for the investigation.

“It was something we wanted to be a part of,” Jacqueline Amaya said. “We were one of the first students to become part of this team, so that was exciting. As part of this team, we learned more about the different career opportunities in the criminal justice field.”

When it comes to careers, there’s a good chance the Amayas aren’t too far apart. Both have expressed their desire to support those in need. Yasmin Amaya is considering working as an advocate for victims and Jacqueline Amaya has expressed her desire to work with victims of child abuse.

Regardless of their career destinations, the Amayas will never be far from each other, and they both credit the path to lessons learned in UHD. They also have tips for other first-generation students considering the University of Houston-Downtown.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” Jasmine Amaya said. “Whether it’s a friend or a professor, you’ll always have someone to give support whether it’s an impassioned talk or helpful advice.”

“Surround yourself with friends who are there to support you,” adds Jacqueline. “College can be tough, but you have to remember that you are not alone in UHD.”

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