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Complete Turnaround

Graduating senior discovers love for learning and the law

Kristina Picarski, ’21, once struggled with school to the point she believed college was not in her future.

“Growing up, school was never a place of comfort,” she said. “It was never a place I wanted to be.”

But Picarski, who has learning disabilities and neurological and immune disorders, ultimately discovered a love of education. She is graduating from Bridgewater State University with a bachelor’s degree after just three years.

In elementary and middle school, Picarski often traded recess and lunch for extra academic support. Still, she found it easier to excel on cheerleading teams rather than in the classroom. As a teenager she was diagnosed with Lyme disease, which had gone undetected for several years and contributed to the “brain fog” she experienced.

With the correct diagnosis and treatment, Picarski realized her academic potential, and nearby BSU was the natural choice for the Raynham resident.

She was understandably nervous about embarking on this new phase in her life. But Bridgewater met her needs and helped her flourish.

She discovered a passion for her criminal justice major and psychology minor, a combination that helped her understand why crimes are committed. She also interned with the Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office, giving her a front-row seat to trials and the criminal justice system in general.

“I felt confident in school,” she said. “I loved learning.”

In classrooms a younger Picarski would have detested, she found professors passionate about their subjects who accepted her hands-on, visual learning style.

“All of the professors I’ve had were amazing,” she said. “Each person had such an impact on me.”

Dr. Michael DeValve, an assistant professor of criminal justice, praised her perseverance.

“She’s the kind of person you want to have in a classroom,” said DeValve, who encouraged her to consider graduate school. “She worked diligently. ... She wasn’t just after knowledge; she was after wisdom.”

Picarski appreciated DeValve’s guidance.

“He was one of those persons who, if I didn’t understand things, I could ask him,” she said. “He helped me grow as a person and a student a lot.”

Picarski, who applied to law school, aims to pursue a career supporting victims of crimes.

As she prepares to cross the commencement stage in July, she offered advice for new Bears: Become who you want to be, go at your own pace, take advantage of every opportunity and be proud.

“Finding myself and finding what I’m made of is something I will take with me forever,” she said.

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