Criminal justice major Angela King Lines ’18 was riveted by news that a serial rapist and killer had finally been caught.
Investigators identified him by matching crime scene DNA to genetic data on public genealogy websites – four decades after his crime spree began.
King Lines says rape victims shouldn’t have to wait so long for resolution, but a huge backlog in DNA testing means that many rape cases languish.
“Every state is so far behind in DNA testing,” she says. “So many victims haven’t gotten justice. Some of them have even passed on.”
King Lines wants to find a way to speed up DNA testing. She says her criminal justice degree at UMass Lowell has prepared her well for the next step: training as a crime lab administrator or a forensic specialist.
“I love that most of the professors here know what they’re talking about because they’ve lived the life – they have field experience,” she says. “And I love this campus. It’s extraordinarily friendly.”
King Lines, who hails from Fort Wayne, Ind., has seen her share of delays in getting a college degree. She started studying criminal justice at Purdue University, got married at 20 years old – she and her husband met while working at Walmart – and then transferred to Indiana University when her husband won a scholarship to the University of Notre Dame for his Ph.D. in physics.
She transferred again when he got a job at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. This time, she chose UMass Lowell, finding it friendlier and more down-to-earth than other campuses she visited. Determined to finish her degree despite two back surgeries and chronic pain, she took classes on-campus and online and added a minor in psychology – all while working full-time as a customer service manager at a New Hampshire Walmart.
Now 32, King Lines is graduating magna cum laude. She is the first in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree. For her accomplishments and her perseverance despite all obstacles, the School of Criminology and Justice Studies awarded her the Amy Finn Human Spirit Award, named in memory of Amy Finn ’07, who earned her degree while battling brain cancer.
King Lines is already fighting crime at Walmart, where she tries to prevent the store’s MoneyGram customers from falling victim to financial scams – or using the service to commit them. She works closely with local police on investigations.
She can’t wait for the next step: She’s looking at UMass Lowell’s online, on-campus and hybrid degree programs in criminal justice, public administration and forensic science.
“I prefer the classroom setting, but I really appreciate the flexibility of online learning,” she says. “You can still do your career and get your degree.”