On a Thursday night in June of 2017, I found myself staring down the barrel of a handgun, aiming at a distant paper target. I had never held a gun before in my life. My range officer had his hand on my shoulder to keep me steady. Peering through the sight, I lined it up and pulled the trigger. It had more resistance than I imagined and the kickback, though minor, sent a shock down my spine. I shot 11 bullets in rapid succession, all of which sailed through the center mass of the target.
Shooting at the range that day was just one of the lifechanging experiences I had as a member of the local Citizen's Police Academy. In addition, I had an opportunity to drive a police car on the department’s fast training course. Like the range, it was nerve-wracking and exhilarating. More than two years later, and I'm just now seeing that I hit the bullseye in more ways than one by signing up to learn about the police.
Exploring My Options
I have always had an interest in public service and police work. So, when I saw an ad on Facebook for the local Citizen’s Police Academy, I jumped at the chance and joined on a whim. It was free to participate for residents of my city and seemed like something I would really enjoy. For 12 weeks, I sat in a classroom with a group of other civilians: teachers, lawyers, students, and stay-at-home moms. As a class, we learned everything the officers could teach us about community policing—from crime scene processing, motor vehicle stops, and crash reconstruction, to mental health, DUIs, and K-9 handling.
When the people in my life found out I was in the program, they were immediately confused.
“Are you going to be a cop?” they would ask.
No, I didn’t have any plans to quit my job at Johnson & Wales to become a police officer. I had a degree in English and a love for writing. Plus, I didn’t have the stomach for it nor was I brave enough. But I did have an interest in the way the department worked and how, as a team, the city and the police came together to engage the community. The program ended, and I “graduated” and earned my spot in the Warwick Citizen’s Police Academy Alumni Association. And I never really considered that it would have a lasting impact on me … but I was wrong.
Choosing a Master’s Program
When I decided to go back to school to earn my graduate degree, I didn’t really know what I was looking for. I am a writer by nature and by trade, so my first thought was to start there. Working in a higher education environment, I realized there were so many options, and I was sure there was an online program out there that could help me in my writing career. To my surprise, I didn’t come across any that made sense to me. Either they were too expensive or they didn’t fit my needs.
In the meantime, I continued doing what I love at JWU Online. My job consists of sharing the stories of students who have persevered and earned their degrees, despite the odds being stacked against them. Every time someone completes his or her degree, it is a cause for celebration. In my role, I get to be the one wearing the party hat and holding the balloons. I asked myself repeatedly, “How can I combine my passion for storytelling with the interest I have in public service?” Well, the answer was staring me in the face—on the page of the website that I spend my days reading and revising.
Why I Chose JWU Online
The online Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree at Johnson & Wales University is the perfect combination of courses for someone like me. There’s a community component, a smattering of courses on leadership and policy, a focus on nonprofit management, and an opportunity to customize the electives I take. The best part is that I can explore my interests in criminal justice and writing without committing to a fully focused program on just one subject.
Being an employee, I am obviously very biased when I say that JWU is a great university with a reputation of excellence. However, the facts speak for themselves. Here, we have industry-experienced faculty members who really know the material they are teaching. They are connected to their industries and are up-to-date on the current events and trends. In addition, the College of Online Education allows busy professionals (like myself) to earn their degrees and get ahead in their careers all on their own time. JWU Online offers an affordable, flexible way for degree-seekers to earn their education, no matter where they are located. These reasons, and more, are why I chose to pursue my degree online at JWU.
For more information on how to get started on your degree at JWU Online, fill out the “Request Info” form on this page, call 855-JWU-1881, or email [email protected].