Alumni Spotlight: Charnae Clay

Charnae Clay, an Albany, Georgia native, recently graduated from Albany State University (ASU) for a third time. She received a Master of Science in Criminal Justice degree during the Spring 2022 Commencement. She also holds a Master of Science degree in Public Administration with a concentration in human resource management and health administration (’20), and a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice (’17).

Clay is employed by the Department of Human Services, Division of Child Support Services. She currently serves as an Advocate II, Parental Accountability Court Coordinator for the Dougherty Judicial Circuit.  Previously, she served as a probation officer for Judicial Correction Services, after earning her undergraduate degree.

Her future plans include teaching at a college level, attending law school, and spending quality time with her three children.

Why did you choose Albany State University? Charnae Clay Headshot
I chose ASU because growing up as a young girl I always had a desire to attend college and this university was my favorite. I’ve always admired the accomplishments I saw my older family members and friends achieve from ASU as well.

What do you like best about working in criminal justice?
My drive is more focused on the restorative justice side. I enjoy being able to assist in making changes in the community one person at a time. If it is for the better, then you can always find my hands in it!

What does a day in the life look like for you?
Being a mother of 3, I'm always busy with them when I'm not busy with work.  I value family time! My workday consists of meetings and attending court. My workday also consists of reaching out to community partners and building relationships with them to gain more knowledge and help others utilize the resources needed to build a stronger community relationship.

Who made the biggest impact on you while at Albany State University?
Mrs. Shawnese Hamm-Leonard. She inspired me to keep going my entire duration at ASU. She encouraged me each time I wanted to give up. She was never too far away and was always one phone call away to guide me no matter what job title she held.

What did you like the best about attending the Albany State University Graduate School?
 The professors were firm, understanding, and very caring. Their structure made my accomplishments more meaningful and deserving. I earned each degree I obtained without a doubt.

What are obstacles you’ve had to overcome to progress in your field?
As a single mom of 3, I decided I wanted to teach at a college level in both areas of criminal justice and public administration as a second income, but my dreams were shattered soon after.

I was told to be able to teach in both areas, I would need 18 credit hours in upper-level classes specific to the field. I thought, why take only 18 credit hours when it was only 30 to obtain the degree? This is what led me to continue my education with no breaks and obtain my second master's degree. This is also what led me to weigh heavy on pursuing law school. I have an ardent desire to become a lawyer.

What advice would you give to students to pursue their dreams?
The advice I would like to give is “delayed does not mean denied.” Keep going even when you are denied access to the goals you have set forth. Anything is possible!

What advice would you give to a potential student considering attending graduate school at Albany State University?
When considering graduate school at ASU understand that it is totally different from the undergraduate level. Go in with a clear mind and prepare to focus. If you are not used to independence, then I assure you will be by the time your journey is complete. Get started and don’t give up!