Thoughts Going Into My Last Semester of University

My last semester of university starts on January 22 and I’m a basket-full of nerves. I am graduating from Clarion University in May and will be awarded my Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice. The same anxiety I had when I graduated from my two-year college in 2016 has taken over.

I didn’t even plan on going to university. I only had my sights set on getting my Associates Degree in Criminal Justice Police. I got that degree and then hit a brick wall. I had a degree, the degree I wanted, but didn’t know what to do about it or how to go about doing what I wanted to do. So, I ended up applying to universities that had online degree options since all the universities are so far away and I didn’t want to live on campus or commute.

I ended up deciding on Clarion. It wasn't one of the universities that reached out to me asking me to apply to them, but I discovered them in the academic passport my two-year Lackawanna College gave me. Lackawanna has agreements with several state schools for acceptance and transferring credits and Clarion happened to be one of them. They accepted all 62 of my credits from Lackawanna so I didn’t have to retake anything.

Clarion has allowed me to complete my entire degree online and gave me the opportunity to complete an internship in my local area as well. This internship is something I really needed, and it allowed me to finally experience working in law enforcement first hand. I first started to want to be a police officer when I was nine or ten and the desire has stuck with me all these years. The only thing that changed was convincing myself I couldn’t be a police officer, or I wouldn’t be a good one, so I started to shift my interests to forensics and the science aspect of law enforcement. Here’s the thing though-subjects like biology, chemistry, and physics are hard and didn’t interest me. Working in forensics requires a lot of science and math knowledge-two subjects that I wasn’t too interested in and had some difficulty with. It became apparent that being a forensic scientist or working in a crime lab wasn’t going to work out for me.

I went into the internship with the Scranton Police Department not really knowing what I wanted to do for a job but knowing that I wanted it to be in the field of law enforcement. I figured I would end up with a civilian job within the department. I was interested in collecting evidence as a civilian but jobs like that don’t exist there or anywhere else around here apparently.

I did 60 hours of ride alongs with SPD’s patrol officers and was fascinated. I loved the feeling of being in a police car and driving around. I loved the feeling of being in a speeding police car with the sirens on even more. I loved responding to calls and getting to see the different problems that communities have-domestic violence, drugs, thefts, burglaries, fraud, etc. I even got to work with SPD’s detectives, spending my last 60 hours with them. I got to see a detective collect a blood sample from the scene of a break-in, a man hanging from a toe strap on a tree in the woods where he killed himself, people with drug problems, and two idiots who sat in a diner while it was on fire because their food hadn’t been brought out yet.

My internship with SPD ignited my desire to be a police officer again. These are people that I am very much alike with and fit in with. They can talk about something and I understand it and vise versa. Not too many people understand what I am talking about when I am talking about police stuff and crime scenes, but that wasn’t the case at SPD. I learned a lot and got to see what it would be like being a police officer in real life and even what it would be like to be a detective-something I didn’t even consider.

After my internship, I started looking into the local Police Academy, which is actually part of the two-year college I graduated from. It’s now a possibility and an exciting one. There’s physical requirements like running, sit ups, push-ups, and bench-pressing that I would need to spend a good amount of time on getting ready for/learning to do, as well as actually getting into shape. My vision, which I thought would disqualify me, ended up meeting their requirements. I would have to pass a medical exam and be cleared healthy enough to even apply for the academy. I have a stomach condition, which I also thought would disqualify me, but the officers at SPD said it shouldn’t be a problem if I’m able to work, and I have a job now, so that seems like something I can now pass. I would also need to pass a psychological exam, which, hey-we’ll see (HAHA)!

I am nervous about graduating and opting to pursue getting fit and applying to the Police Academy but I also feel hopeful, something that was lacking when I graduated my two-year school. I feel like I found that whole ‘purpose’ thing everyone talks about wanting to find and I feel like I am on the right track. If the head of the entire Criminal Justice program at Clarion and officers and detectives from SPD think I am capable of becoming a cop, then that is certainly a confident boost.

Clarion’s motto is: Courageous. Confident. Clarion. I liked that from the first time I saw it and believe it or not, that’s one of the things that made me want to pick Clarion as my university. Courage and confidence were two things I was lacking, two things I needed, and I now feel like I finally have both. Clarion allowed me to study what I’m passionate about and discover how to follow my dreams.