Club & Greek
- Category: Volume 88 (Fall 2016 - Spring 2017)
- Published: 22 February 2017
- Written by DALLY MATOS | CONTRIBUTING WRITER
The Guardian’s Club hosted a talk with author and veteran Julia Torres on Wednesday, Feb. 19. The criminal justice club hosts talks a few times a month with different professionals in the industry to help students learn about the different fields in the criminal justice system.
“She is a remarkable person, and is a great role model for all of our students in terms of what you can accomplish and going for your dreams,” said Nicholas Sewitch, a professor in the criminal justice department on why he chose Torres to speak at Wednesday’s meeting.
The talk consisted of Torres discussing her life, and instilling the message in all those attending to seize every opportunity available.
Torres enlisted in the Army Reserve the summer of her freshman year at Rutgers University in order to make some money.
Torres wanted to prove others wrong and show that women could be truck drivers, and chose that as her specialty in the Army Reserve.
After graduation from Mason Gross School of the Arts, she worked in portraiture for six months until deciding to make a career change. Her sergeant from the Army Reserve recommended she apply to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office as an agent and got the job instantly.
She began reading cases until she read a case about a female undercover agent which sparked a curiosity that led to another career change.
When the Persian Gulf War came around, Torres volunteered to go and drive trucks for eight months. Upon returning, she went to the police academy and had her eyes set on working in Hudson County.
At the time, Torres explained, Hudson County had one of the highest crime rates in the state. After getting hired in narcotics, she did undercover work buying drugs and collecting it for evidence.
Torres said that one of the hardest parts about being undercover was having to turn in people she had grown close to. “They weren’t all bad guys, some had just gotten mixed in with the wrong crowd,” she said.
She continued to do this for months until she was chosen for a special task where she would be infiltrating the illegal underground gambling scene in Paterson.
She explains that this was one of the most interesting and excruciating points in her career, playing a persona for months at a time. “I loved the storytelling of all the different experiences she went through while she was undercover,” said Alexis Tremper, a first year communication student.
While dabbling in acting, Torres met a producer at an audition years later who encouraged her to write a book, which made her have to come to some truths with her daughter about her past.
She was date raped by an ex-boyfriend, sexually assaulted in the military and even admitted that the reason she enlisted was because she wanted to end her life, and said that she couldn’t write anything without her daughter knowing first.
She then went on to publish two books, the first entitled “Still Standing” about her life in the military, and the second “Bolder and Braver: My Undercover Story” about her undercover work as a police officer.
Monmouth students of all academic majors were in attendance as she showed an episode of the television series based on her illegal gambling infiltration case.
“That was my favorite part,” said David Hernandez, a junior criminal justice student.
“She was very brave throughout her career and she didn’t let anything come in between her and what she wanted to accomplish. She was never afraid to break the mold,” said Sewitch.
“She’s fearless in the respect of her ability to jump into dangerous situations; I was really struck by that. Think about her military experience, being one of the first women over in the Middle East in a combat situation, about her going into deep undercover, she really is an intelligent person with great judgement.”
Ultimately, she ended her presentation by reminding the students to pursue their passions and be open to everything life throws at them.
She inspired Hernandez, who said that he made her much interested in detective and undercover work.
PHOTO TAKEN by Dally Matos