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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Berkshire Profile: Krista Roche

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Sunday, September 10, 2006

MCLA student Krista Roche, Class of 2008
Welcome to Berkshire Profile, an iberkshires weekly feature appearing on Sunday. Each week, iberkshires will highlight a Berkshires resident or entity making a contribution to the Berkshires way of life.

North Adams - It happened during the spring 2006 semester, an "aha!" moment that may have decided Krista Roche's career path.

The 20-year-old East Amherst, N.Y. native and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts student was enrolled in a juvenile delinquency class taught by Professor Leonard Paolillo when the sociology major experienced a bit of an epiphany, she said.

Crossroads

"I was at a crossroads," she said. "I loved sociology, and when I took the course, I found I really loved the law. And I love youth."

"I was involved with the course and it was really fascinating. I was seeing all the problems there are with the justice system. There was a moment...I didn't know how I was going to use my degree [her minor is criminal justice] and now I do. I can bring it all together and be a judge in the juvenile justice system. That course changed my life. I owe Professor Paolillo a lot."

Roche is a member of the MCLA Class of 2008 and president of the Student Government Association. Her degree requirements are expected to be completed during the fall 2007 semester, she said.

Roche is considering enrollment at Northeastern University for graduate studies and also plans to attend law school. The journey to a juvenile court judge's bench is long and challenging and earning a judicial appointment isn't a sure thing. But Roche believes she can best serve herself and society in that capacity.

"I want to get there," she said.

Roche is a 2004 Williamsville East High School graduate. Her two older brothers are college graduates as is her father and her mother attended college. Once Roche began investigating the MCLA campus, her desire to earn her degree at the small Northern Berkshires college grew, she said.

Roche is happiest when surrounded by nature, she said. So when an information packet about MCLA showed up in the Roche family mailbox, she was immediately drawn to the school's location.

"I remember getting all these random fliers from colleges," she said. "When I saw the cover of the MCLA brochure with the mountains and all the flags out on the street, it really seemed to fit my personality."

A "Perfect" College Experience

Roche was able to take advantage of a specific program that offers Vermont and New York students a tuition rate similar to that of a Massachusetts resident, and that added to the MCLA appeal, she said.

"And I wanted a small school, I wanted the private school atmosphere," she said. "I knew that with the [in most cases] 13 student [to 1 instructor] ratio, there would be lots of opportunities for learning. When I came to visit [prior to enrollment], I was floored. It was fall and everything was so gorgeous. And the people here are great and I mean that. This is such a close-knit community. For me, it has been the perfect college experience."

"MCLA is a hidden pot of gold. There is so much opportunity here. So many of the professors are so well educated, and many have their doctorates. We are the first institution to offer an arts management major. Even NYU doesn't have that. I know I've changed; I'm a completely different person and it's for the better."

The city has avoided "rowdy college town" notoriety and that is probably a good thing, she said. Community service projects are a large part of the campus and campus, community and cultural recreation options are in place, she said.

"There are opportunities here," Roche said. "There are the museums and now there is the Cup and Saucer [downtown coffee bar]. There are a lot of outdoor things. People like to complain and there are students who say there's nothing to do. There is stuff to do if you look for it. Some people want the opportunities to come to them."

"We Can Cross The Barrier"

MCLA and Williams College officials have worked to cultivate relationships between students of the two schools, Roche said.

"Students from each college are welcomed at most events of each school," she said. "I do think there could be improvement in that area but I know both colleges have tried. It's on the students now. And I'll admit it, I think students on both sides might be a little scared. Society sets the norms and the rules; society tells people they can't interact because of socio-economics. There is an element of stereotyping on both sides, there's an invisible barrier."

"It's on us. We can cross that barrier."

Williams and MCLA students might discover much common ground should the "barriers" fall away, Roche said.

"For all we know, our best friend for life is a Williams student," she said.

Go For It!

Education is extremely important, Roche said.

"I enjoy learning," she said. "I am a student and I do the work. When you are in college, you get to choose your courses and it's important to choose what you want to learn. What good is it to have a bachelor's degree if you can't show anyone anything from it?"

Roche said she plans to move through life with an open mind and an open heart.

"You won't be successful unless you allow yourself to change and grow," she said. "Opportunities are there. You have to go and get it. You can't wait for it to come to you because it won't. You have to have an open mind and be able to see the broader picture. I want to make a change, that's for sure. If it means [a positive change] for only one person, one youth, I'll be happy."

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.
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