09:42 AM

Double Degrees: Twins Jasmin and Jaquelin Amaya Set to Graduate from UHD

Sisters to Earn Criminal Justice Degrees Dec. 18


By Mike Emery

Jasmin and Jaquelin Amaya have spent their entire lives side by side. The twin sisters have been almost inseparable since birth, sharing life experiences as best friends and sisters. They also have been classmates, gaining knowledge in classrooms that will support their career goals. 

On Dec. 18, they will again be side by side during another transformative moment—their graduation from the University of Houston-Downtown. Both sisters will be among the more than 2,500 Gator Graduates earning degrees on this day. 

This double diploma celebration will be a momentous occasion for the first-generation grads, who both will earn bachelor’s degrees in Criminal Justice.  

“Our family is very excited that we’re graduating,” said Jasmin Amaya, the eldest sister (by two minutes). “Our mother and grandmother have been planning our graduation party for months now. We’re the first to graduate in our family, so this is an important moment for us.” 

Their road to UHD was paved while attending Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy in Houston. One day, representatives from the University arrived on campus to spotlight its offerings to seniors. The Amayas liked what they heard and UHD became their top college pick. It was affordable, close to home and had an academic program that appealed to both sisters—Criminal Justice. 

“It’s something that we’ve always been interested in,” said Jasmin Amaya. “Reading about law enforcement and watching different shows and movies helped get us interested in learning more about criminal justice.” 

During their time at UHD, both sisters were members of UHD’s Scene Investi-Gators. This team of students learned the ins and outs of Crime Scene Investigations from professors Dr. Elizabeth Gilmore and Dr. Kevin Buckler and competed in the Southwestern Association of Criminal Justice Meeting conducted in Houston in 2019. Along with several Criminal Justice peers, they gained invaluable insights on how to secure a crime scene, handle and document evidence and other necessary tasks essential to an investigation. 

“It was something that we wanted to be a part of,” Jaquelin Amaya said. “We were some of the first students to be a part of this team, so that was exciting. And as part of this team, we learned more about different career opportunities within criminal justice.” 

When it comes to careers, there’s a good chance the Amayas may not be too far away from each other. Both have expressed interest in supporting those in need. Jasmin Amaya is considering a career as a victims’ advocate and Jaquelin Amaya has expressed interest in in working with victims of child abuse. 

Regardless of their professional destinations, the Amayas will never be far from each other, and both credit the road ahead to the lessons learned at UHD. They also have advice for other first-generation students considering the University of Houston-Downtown. 

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” Jasmin Amaya said. “Whether it’s a friend or a professor, you will always have someone to offer support whether it’s a pep talk or helpful advice.” 

“Surround yourself with friends who are there to support you,” Jaquelin adds. “College can be hard, but you have to remember you’re not alone at UHD.”

About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.

U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.