“Treat everybody with respect – we are all human,” said Preston Billingsley, sophomore criminal justice major. “We’re all made up of the same thing – flesh, blood and bones. You’re no different than I am.”
Billingsley said he strives to live by those words in his day-to-day life as he encourages everyone to do the same.
The St. Louis native said he chose to attend college at UCM for a few relative reasons, one being that his sister also attends school here, so he felt better knowing that she would be here to help him through his so-called crazy freshman year. Also, Billingsley said that after conducting his own research, he realized UCM had one of the best criminal justice programs of any school around.
Billingsley said UCM has been a good experience so far, but of course no experience is flawless.
“There have definitely been drawbacks, but I do believe that the good outweighs the bad here,” he said. “No school is perfect, no organization is perfect. But definitely here at UCM, the good outweighs the bad.”
As a sophomore, Billingsley said he is taking his major coursework seriously.
“This semester, I took a step back,” he said. “I prioritized and made goals and matured in that aspect of knowing that I’m not Superman – I can’t do everything.”
Billingsley said the reason he took a step back is because he was overly involved his freshman year.
“I was just really eager to grab the bull by the horns and just jump into a lot of things and get busy,” he said. “Everybody always tells you that you should get involved your freshman year and branch out and try new things. Well, I branched out and tried to do everything.”
Billingsley said his mindset of trying to do everything slowed him down academically, ultimately leading him to time commitment issues. With a better focus on school, Billingsley said he’s ready for his summer internship in Kansas City.
Billingsley had help from a professor to gain his internship opportunity.
“One of our teachers, Dr. (Benecia) Carmack, does an amazing job with finding internships and finding employment after graduation for us,” he said.
For future plans, Billingsley said he wants to make his way back home to work for the St. Louis Police Department. He plans on working his way up the ranks there, ultimately moving up to management positions. From there he would like to go federal and work with the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Billingsley said he plans to achieve his big goals by staying true to his values.
“Treat everyone with equality just as much as you would treat your sisters, brothers or your family,” he said. “Treat them with respect. I expect the same from you as a stranger. Treating everybody with respect and dignity is so important.”
PHOTO BY BETHANY SHERROW / REPORTER: Preston Billingsley sits in front of a blooming dogwood tree in front of the Elliott Student Union, enjoying the sunshine on Tuesday.
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