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Alisha Medeiros ’15 wants to help troubled youth make better choices and live fulfilling lives. This desire, influenced by a family tragedy, led her to pursue a career in criminal justice.
Medeiros was just 12 years old when her sister, who was estranged from her family, died of a drug overdose. “I always wonder what would have happened if we could have talked to her,” she says. “I think she felt alone.”
The desire to help others who are struggling led Medeiros to Plymouth State, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. She is now among the first class of students to enroll in a new Master of Science Degree in Criminal Justice Administration. The program is designed to provide criminal justice professionals with the skills they need to become effective leaders and administrators in police departments, correctional institutions, court systems, and other facilities.
“There is a need for highly trained professionals in our communities and an advanced degree will help them become the leaders they need to be,” says Professor of Criminal Justice Stephanie Halter ’02.
Derry, NH, police officer Patrick Dawson ’09 agrees. He is pursuing the master’s degree in criminal justice administration to make himself more marketable as an administrator.
Police departments may not require advanced degrees of those seeking to become sergeants, lieutenants, captains, and chiefs, but Dawson says many departments, including his own, offer incentives to those who earn them. And several of those professionals in leadership positions in Derry, Dawson notes, hold advanced degrees.
Taking classes while working full-time can be a challenge, therefore the program is designed to accommodate the needs of busy working professionals. Courses are offered online and face-to-face in Plymouth and Concord. There is also an accelerated one-year program option, which Medeiros is pursuing while working as an advocate and caregiver to young women with disabilities at a rehabilitation center. After earning her master’s degree, she hopes to work at a juvenile detention center and eventually in a restorative justice program.
In her current position, Medeiros is learning about herself, how she manages her emotions, and how she deals with challenges, all skills that will be important to her future work in the field. She marvels at each small improvement the women she works with make. “It’s such an amazing feeling helping them learn skills that they will use for the rest of their lives.”
■ Amy Barnes ’15G
Bruce Lyndes contributed to this report.