Meet Joe M.

Criminal Justice Graduate

“Our schedule is ridiculous – wake up 5 a.m., bring the boys to school. Bring my wife to work. Get back to Troy, daughter goes to day care, and then my day starts.”

Joe Mumtaz, a 2022 Criminal Justice major, realized early on that you have to sacrifice a little to gain a lot.

Four years ago, he and his wife, Kayla, were working in unfulfilling jobs and both knew they needed to jumpstart their career prospects through higher education.

Enter Hudson Valley Community College. Kayla started first, graduating with honors from Hudson Valley in 2020, and Joe continued to work for another year before he began his degree path here.

As the parents of two young boys - now ages 7 and 5 and with a little girl nearing her second birthday - the past few years have been a lesson in hard work and humility. Relying on a small income from part-time jobs, financial aid and loans, they’ve somehow made it work.

“Our schedule is ridiculous – wake up 5 a.m., bring the boys to school. Bring my wife to work. Get back to Troy, daughter goes to day care, and then my day starts. Two o’clock, I pick up my daughter from day care, bring her to grandma’s house, get the boys from school. Go back to my job again. There were times when we didn’t have a car so we walked to buses to bring the kids to school and then go to school ourselves.”

Strangely enough, the lockdowns associated with COVID were somewhat of a blessing in disguise. “We were all together. The two boys and Kayla and I all doing our school work on our laptops,” he said with a laugh.

Over the past year, things have been coming together for the young family, and Joe said he feels like the plan he and Kayla mapped out for their future a few years back is becoming clearer.

Both parents are now working part-time jobs and the prospect of full-time employment (with a big boost in income) has them considering a more settled - or at least a less hectic - future. Joe hopes to start a career in corrections and community supervision with a goal of one day working in probation or parole.

If Kayla gets the job she is interning at right now and Joe can get the job he’s aiming toward, they will go from making $18,000 a year as a family to over $110,000 – in three years. That’s a huge life changer.

“I want my kids when they are 10 or 13 years old, I want them to see a good life. Nothing amazing – a house with a spacious yard, maybe the opportunity for them to have their own bedroom, a vacation every year. That’s about it,” he said.

Joe’s hope to enter the probation field stems in part from some struggles he had growing up and the real need he sees now to bring a caring and compassionate voice to the juvenile justice system.

“My goal has always been to become a parole or probation officer, working with adolescents. When I was young, I did a few things that might have landed me in jail, but I never got caught for them. Other kids aren’t as lucky - bad family, or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I want to impact someone’s life for the positive, even if it’s just to be there to listen when they need to talk. Having kids have given me a new perspective on life.”

When Joe walks across the stage on Saturday, May 14, to receive his Criminal Justice associate’s degree he knows his wife will be receiving her bachelor’s degree from the University at Albany the following day. Their road to a better future isn’t over yet, but victories along the way are definitely worth celebrating, he said.

“Because of COVID, we never had a real party after (Kayla’s) graduation from Hudson Valley, but we are making up for it this year. Friends and family are coming from around the country for this weekend – Texas, North Carolina, Florida. It’s a big deal for both of us, and there will be a party on Sunday.”