Jason Mazaik is Chair of the Legal Studies department at MassBay Community College and one the College’s three full-time faculty members of that department, teaching Criminal Justice and Sociology.
“I love the work that I do. It’s really all in service to the students. Being at a two-year school makes me focus on the classroom experience and on the students.”
Prior to coming to MassBay in 2007, he worked at Pearson Education and never imagined he eventually would be teaching at a community college. But after his department shut down at Pearson, he applied and was hired for a position at MassBay to teach Criminal Justice and Sociology, which really spoke to the work he did in graduate school. He initially thought of the job as transitional and never believed he would stay as long as he has. However, he quickly realized the amount of good that could come out of teaching at a community college. He decided to make a long-term commitment to the College after realizing the tremendous impact he could have helping the lives of so many students, just as he experienced himself in college.
“There’s a lot of good to do. There are so many students who need help and guidance, students who don’t have that guidance at home, or who don’t understand that they have the ability to succeed and do great things. The best part is showing the students what they can accomplish and helping them to build up their confidence in what they are doing and what they hope to achieve.”
Mazaik is a proud first-generation college student. He never knew what higher education was all about until he experienced it first-hand. “Until I went to college, it really wasn’t part of the discourse of my family, so I didn’t know what it was about. I didn’t know what college’s purpose and goal was.”
There was one particular experience from his college undergrad life that changed his whole education and career trajectory. Mazaik was accepted to the honors program at Sacred Heart University, but his professors failed him in his first course solely so he would have to speak with each of them at the school, in person, about his academic work. “They kind of kicked my ass. Their genuine caring and attention really got me into gear and made me realize the opportunities that I had in front of me. None of that would have happened without my being in an honors program.”
Mazaik considers one of his biggest accomplishments to be building the honors program at MassBay. He jokes, “I don’t want to fail students so that they come talk to me about their work. I only want to provide the honors opportunity for our students.” He helped expand the program to be a part of the statewide system, which is a big advantage for students.
“We offer honors sections of what are typically elective courses that students are required to take. Joining the state program means that if they complete nine credits of honors courses, along with an honors capstone course, they become Commonwealth Capstone Scholars. That means they can transfer directly into any other state honors program.”
The honors program is a very close-knit community within the College. “Literally, every step and every measure we take in the program is in the best interest of the students. I think we all work really well together. Our primary goal is achieving the best outcome for the students to provide future academic opportunities for them or future employment opportunities.”
The Legal Studies department and Criminal Justice program gears its classes for two types of students—those going right into the field and those looking to pursue further degrees in higher education. Mazaik considers hearing success stories from former students to be the best part of his job.
“We do hear back from a lot of students that are currently doing what they always wanted to do. That’s the reassurance that we get that we get that we are doing our jobs right.”
Mazaik got his bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Psychology from Sacred Heart University and his master’s degree in Sociology from Northeastern University. He is married with two young children. In his spare time, Mazaik enjoys skiing, mountain biking, hiking, football, vinyl record collecting, listening to music, and coaching his son’s baseball team.