Criminal Justice Student Strives to Give Others a Second Chance

Posted by on April 29, 2014

When was the last time that you stopped by the Minnesota School of Business-Brooklyn Center campus library before 10 a.m.? If you have not been by lately, you would not know that we have a relatively new student worker: Vanessa Sparks.

Vanessa Sparks

A 2008 graduate of Park Center High School, Sparks decided to venture off to college. She knew that she wanted a smaller school, but unfortunately, she just could not find the right school for her. After trying out four different schools, she found MSB-Brooklyn Center in January 2013; she has stuck around here longer than any of the other schools.

“I really like the environment at the Brooklyn Center campus because it is more ‘adult-like’ and professional than the other schools I went to. The staff and faculty care about the students here, especially if we are absent from class, and I appreciate that,” Sparks said.

Sparks enrolled in the criminal justice program because after she graduates, she would like to become a parole officer. In 2008, Sparks was charged with a gross misdemeanor and fully understands the importance of giving individuals another opportunity to be successful.

She said, “As a parole officer, I would like to help people navigate into the real world, find counseling services, and assist them with re-getting to know their place in their family. Everyone deserves a second chance, and if I don’t give it to them, who will?”


With one year down in her program and less than one year left to complete it, she applied to be a student worker. Her main role on campus is to work in the campus library Monday through Friday for two hours in the morning (8 a.m. – 10 a.m.). Sparks is able to assist students with questions regarding the internet, the iPad, and Microsoft Office programs. When she is needed, Sparks also helps out at the front desk greeting students and guests and answering phones.

When asked if she has any favorite memories about her time at MSB-BC, she simply responded with, “I enjoy everything here every quarter. Knowing that I have passed all of my classes makes me proud that I overcame the obstacles that I have been thrown in life. I can finally say ‘I did it!'”

Kelly O’Brien, director of admissions, commented, “Vanessa has a very positive attitude, and she is very willing to help out wherever we need her on campus. It’s great to have her around!”

Sparks lives in the area with her boyfriend and two sons, ages seven and two. She is on schedule to graduate with her associate degree in criminal justice in March 2015. Everyone at the Brooklyn Center campus wishes her the best of luck as she works towards completion of her program as well as after she graduates!

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