Criminal Justice Graduate Aims to Help Those Facing Challenges She Had to Overcome

May 28, 2024

This article was originally published by and the video story aired on NBC5 in Dallas on May 13, 2024.

The pomp and circumstance of college graduation is upon UNT Dallas this week.

angelica gossett-azbell

Grad student, Angelica Gossett-Azbell got her Masters of Science in Criminal Justice. It's a subject that hits close to home.

"That's me visiting my mom in prison," Gossett-Azbell said scrolling through pictures on her phone. "Everyone kind of expected me to follow the trail my parents took. So it's still kind of hard to carry that."

The Oak Cliff native grew up in the Child Protective Services system. Gossett-Azbell said both her mother and father spent time in and out of prison for drug-related crimes.

angelica gossett's parents

"Knowing that my parents took shortcuts really bothered me that they didn't think about the consequences," Gossett-Azbell said. "So that really propelled me to further my education and want to do Criminal Justice."

Gossett-Azbell said she chose Criminal Justice because she wants to help children like she once was.

angelica as cheerleader

"Because they can see that someone that came where they came from can do it," Gossett-Azbell said. "I really feel that education was my parent. It taught me a lot of fundamentals, and it laid down a foundation that I needed that I never had."

At a hooding ceremony on Friday, Gossett-Azbell had a mentor, her husband and her father in the audience watching.

"He really changed his life and it felt so secure to have him there," Gossett-Azbell said of her father. "It felt overwhelming; in a good way."

Her mother could not attend. "She's incarcerated for the third time for selling drugs," Gossett-Azbell said. Her mother is expected to be released from prison soon.

angelica gossett-azbell and carl azbell

Gossett-Azbell wants to continue her education to get her PhD to be a professor one day.

"It's one of the best feelings that I know," Gossett-Azbell said of her degree. "I'm secure, so the stability is there and no one can ever take that from me."

Gossett-Azbell will participate in the UNT Dallas Commencement Ceremony on Tuesday, March 14.