Recent Criminal Justice Graduate Successes

Michael Girsch ('07)    

Officer, Waterloo Police Department, Violent Crimes Apprehension Team (VCAT), Firearms Instructor, Field Training Officer

I chose Loras College as a student-athlete because of its tradition and reputation of having one of the most notable Criminal Justice programs in the Midwest. I always knew I wanted to pursue a career in Criminal Justice but I wasn't sure what particular field I wanted to enter. That's what was so perfect about the Criminal Justice program at Loras College. It didn't just focus on one specific field; it hit all of the major areas in the Criminal Justice system. I could be learning Criminology in the morning and transition to Juvenile Justice or White-Collar Crime in the afternoon. The broad educational program didn't limit my degree to one particular career.

Being taught by highly educated professionals with real life experience was key to my success at Loras College. Not only did the professors teach methe material, they were able to relate it back to their experiences in the field. It gave me a better understanding of what was being taught.

One of the most important and influential experiences was my senior field instruction. Dr. Decker was extremely helpful in getting my internship with a Criminal Justice agency planned out and organized. Not only was the required field instruction good experience, it allowed me to make the contacts I would need once I graduated. That practical experience was the culmination of all the things I had learned through the Criminal Justice program at Loras.

Ann Kennedy ('05)

Patrol Officer, Dubuque Police Department

I transferred to Loras after my freshmen year.  Although I wanted to get closer to home, another part of this change was due to the Criminal Justice program.  When I came to visit Loras I met with Dedra Tentis and I instantly felt welcome and encouraged to pursue my goals. The program aimed at being interactive, but also required a personalized focus and dedication to to my own learning experience. The CJ program also worked to teach the material through various means so that all students could benefit from the different ways each of us learn. We would not only have reading and writing assignments, but the professors included field trips, presentations, and special guest speakers to bring in "real life" perspectives on careers in law enforcement.  One class that I found particularly helpful especially now that I am a police officer was Criminal Law.  This class provided me with a solid basis for the definition of each major crime and taught me the beginning steps on how to apply a specific crime to certain criminal acts.  It also gave me a clear picture of all the stages involved in the criminal justice system from the arresting stage to court proceedings.  Each and every professor in the Criminal Justice program was great to work with, not only approachable and easy to talk to if a problem arose, but fun and down to earth.  My only regret is not coming to Loras my first year! 

Chris Melde ('01)

Coordinator of Undergraduate Studies, Assistant Professor,
School of Criminal Justice, Michigan State University

My experience as a student at Loras College lived up to all of my expectations.  The size of the student body and the culture of inclusion and open dialogue promoted by the faculty created the perfect environment for social and educational enrichment. I developed life-long friendships and a fondness for the learning experience offered through a traditional college setting that led to my own career in academia.  The criminal justice faculty fostered an environment where students felt comfortable in discussing issues of law and justice despite diverse views on controversial topics. This environment encouraged the development of critical thinking and problem solving skills that are essential in the field of criminal justice. 


Wes Schilling ('00) 

Probation/Parole Officer,
Dubuque Department of Correctional Services
The classroom instruction I received at Loras was top notch.  The professors do a great job teaching theory and its application, while the adjunct instructors bring “real world” criminal justice experience to teaching.  One of the most beneficial aspects to my time at Loras was the networking opportunities through instructors, as well as guest speakers who are already established in the field.  Dr. Decker helped guide me in my choice of internship, and was great in helping me get it set up. I made several connections in my internship, which helped me get my career started in corrections.  My supervisor in my current job was a guest speaker in one of my classes at Loras.  Knowing people, and having people know me really helped in my career advancement, and many of those connections started at Loras College.  I would recommend Loras College’s Criminal Justice program to anyone who is looking for a job in this interesting and challenging field.

Callie Schmitt ('05)

Hammer Simon & Jensen Law Firm, East Dubuque, IL
Despite being a non-traditional student, the Loras College staff and community took time to get to know me and treated me, along with every student, as an important and unique individual. I was encouraged to think critically and challenged by faculty members to achieve academic success. What I learned at Loras was essential to becoming the competent, professional, and ethical attorney I am today.  My professors in the Criminal Justice department were strict and critical of my work; a method which pushed me to set high goals and accomplish things they knew I was capable of.  They expanded my learning experience beyond the text book and gave me the opportunity to see and experience actual real-life situations in relation to the course material. 

Most importantly, the faculty took the time to get to know me as more than just a student—as a mom, a friend, and a future professional.  I would not be the person I am today without the Loras College community.



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