After earning her bachelor’s degree in Homeland Security in 2018, Jacqueline “Jackie” Canino returned to St. John’s to pursue a graduate degree. Now, with her master’s work complete, she will work for the US Department of Justice, joining a long list of family members dedicated to public service.
“My entire family has always been drawn to helping people,” Jackie said. “My dad is retired from the New York City Fire Department (FDNY), and I have cousins who are in the New York City Police Department (NYPD) or are former military. Even my fiancé is currently in the FDNY. I guess you could say service is in our blood.”
Jackie was first drawn to service as a teenager on Long Island, where many towns have volunteer fire departments. “My father was a firefighter, and I loved the idea of being involved in the community and helping others,” she said. “That is why I decided to join the junior fire department.”
She began her service as a department secretary; over the course of her high school years, she rose through the ranks of the junior brigade, becoming a lieutenant and then captain.
“It was my first experience in any type of leadership position,” she said. “That exposure to public service was really a driving force behind my interest in homeland security and emergency management.”
Jackie enrolled in the College of Professional Studies (now The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies (CCPS)) as a homeland security major, with a concentration in emergency management. As an undergraduate, she took advantage of every opportunity available, both inside and outside of the classroom, including an internship with NYC Emergency Management.
According to Jackie, her classroom experience played an instrumental role in securing the internship. “I took a course in CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives) at St. John’s and that experience made me an extremely well-qualified candidate for their program,” she explained. “It was the first time I really saw my degree tangibly get me a job.”
As a student, Jackie served as President of the Homeland Security Student Association and was responsible for inviting speakers from various government agencies to give presentations at the University. “We had speakers from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), NYPD’s gang task forces, and others come to campus,” she said. “We also arranged two trips to Washington, DC.” Jackie was instrumental in facilitating student involvement in using the Homeland Security/Emergency Management Simulation Lab.
After graduating in 2018, Jackie sought to further her education while securing additional real-world experience through an internship in the prestigious FBI Honors Internship Program. According to the FBI, the program seeks the best and the brightest students and recent graduates to bring their knowledge and skills to a diverse workforce.
“It is a program with a high application rate and a low acceptance rate,” she explained. “I applied for the internship, and I applied for the Master of Professional Studies in Homeland Security and Criminal Justice Leadership program at St. John’s. Fortunately, I was able to do both.”
“Jacqueline was a model student and her experience at St. John’s highlights all that CCPS has to offer to both our graduate and undergraduate students,” said Keith Cozine, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, Legal Studies, and Homeland Security. “I have no doubt that her integrity, work ethic, intelligence, and St. John’s experience will make her a successful leader in her chosen profession.”
Over the past two years, Jackie has grown through her involvement as both a student and an intern. “I have learned about how people work together, how society functions, and what to do when something goes wrong,” she said. “St. John’s not only prepared me for a career where I could help people—it gave me the confidence to handle any challenge that is thrown my way.”