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News & Events: Frederick Campus

Last month’s article, 5 Things you Need to Know About Funding Your Grad Degree, briefly addressed employer tuition assistance (ETA) as a solution to finance your education. Whether you’re completing an undergraduate degree or earning a graduate degree or certificate, ETA could significantly decrease or eliminate the cost.

When approaching the topic with your employer, lead with information about how your education will ultimately benefit the company. In short, better skilled managers who know the organization from the bottom up will make for a better organization. Before discussing ETA with your employer, prepare for the following:

  1. Find the right fit. Research and select the best option to fit your own career needs, as well as the organization’s needs. Decide whether a single class, certificate program, or degree program is the most direct and effective route to develop the knowledge and skills you need to move yourself and your organization forward. To help you select the right program or school, check out the Top 10 Considerations to Find the Right Program For You.
  2. Know the program. Once you select a program, outline exactly how the coursework aligns with your job responsibilities. Employers will want to see that your time spent in class will directly correlate to your work on the job.
  3. Compromise. Be prepared to discuss multiple options for tuition assistance if your employer seems hesitant about full remission or reimbursement. One option is to split the cost. Another is to be reimbursed based on grades, so that your employer sees you are excelling in the program before paying your way. Go in with alternatives in mind so you can make a case for compromise.

If your organization does not have an ETA policy in place, become a policy shaper! Your initiative will demonstrate your commitment to your personal growth as well as your investment in the well being of the organization.

ASL Inductees

The Alpha Sigma Lambda, Sigma Mu Chapter of Mount St. Mary’s University invited 15 new members into the honorary last week. Four new members and their families attended a ceremony at the Frederick Campus on Sunday to celebrate this prestigious achievement.

Alpha Sigma Lambda recognizes the adult learner who balances family, work, and school. A student invited into the honorary must have a minimum 3.5 grade point average on a 4.0 scale. Students also must complete 24 graded semester hours at Mount St. Mary’s, and be in the top 10 percent of their class.

Dr. Tim Wolfe gave the keynote address on finding happiness and meaning in life, and the role education plays in that meaning.

“Research findings make clear that having a sense of purpose or meaning in one’s life, particularly in the work we do, is one of the strongest predictors of life satisfaction," said Dr. Wolfe. "A Mount education is designed, among other things, to help us find our calling or our purpose in this life. I urge you to reflect carefully on your calling so that you may help others and also increase your personal happiness.”

Certificates, cords, and pins were awarded to each new chapter member.

Pictured above (L to R): Marina Golub, Cynthia Kokoski, Karen Butters, John Jefferson

Former Chief of Police, Thomas J. Ledwell, will join the Mount’s criminal justice program faculty, bringing new ideas and experiences to the table. He will be teaching classes such as Law Enforcement Leadership and Intelligence in the adult Criminal Justice Program, starting in the fall of 2015.

Ledwell, a twenty-two year veteran of the Frederick Police Department, has held many positions in the force, including patrol officer, narcotics detective and supervisor, patrol squad supervisor, patrol division commander, special operations division commander, operations bureau commander and chief of police.

In addition to his various positions in the force, he was certified through the Maryland Police and Corrections Training Commission as both a general instructor and a defensive tactics instructor. He also taught subjects in the Frederick Police Academy, ranging from search and seizure, to crime analysis and crime reduction strategies, to ground fighting.

“He is not someone who has just read the books,” said Professor Joe Vince, director of the criminal justice programs for adult and traditional students. “He knows of the nitty-gritty issues and best practices that chiefs deal with on a daily basis.”

Ledwell spearheaded a number of department programs and projects, including development of the agency’s data-driven crime reduction strategy and problem-solving systems. A new initiative that he would like to work on bringing to the Mount would be a Police Chief Think Tank, where students could help solve real world problems alongside members of various police forces. A search for corporate sponsorship for the program has begun, and it could open new doors to internships and learning experiences for students.

“Chief Ledwell is very humble and dynamic in inspiring people to work for him,” Vince stated. “People gravitate towards his leadership style.”

A graduate education can advance your career to the next level, and it can be a hefty investment that demands a return. In the long-term, the value outweighs the initial cost, however there are ways to make graduate school a more viable and affordable option. Navigating the financial aid realm as a prospective graduate student is much easier than you may think if you know where to start.

  • File a FAFSA. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as the FAFSA, is available online and can be filed each academic year. It’s quicker and simpler than you may think! As a grad student, you don’t have to complete parental information, and the results are usually sent to the universities you specify within a week.
  • Sign up for all of your classes. By signing up for all of your classes prior to each semester, you’ll make your financial aid and billing much simpler. You can still add or drop classes during the semester, but keep in mind that it generates a revised award letter with new loan amounts and a new billing statement, which may be confusing.
  • Explore alternatives to federal aid. Financial aid and scholarships for graduate students can be difficult to find, but options are available, such as:
    • Outside aid, like company sponsored scholarships, Maryland State Grants, or Legislative Scholarships.
    • Tuition reimbursement or remission from your employer. If you’re studying in a field related to your career, your work may fund classes for professional development.
    • Graduate assistantships allow you to earn your degree while working for the university.
    • Lifetime Learning tax credits can give you a break on your annual taxes.
  • Minimize borrowing. If you don’t need all of your federal loan entitlement, don’t use it! Graduate students are eligible to borrow up to $20,500 in Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans each year to be used toward tuition, books, and other supplies. However, only borrow what you absolutely need. In the long run, this can save you a lot of money in loan payments and interest.
  • Defer undergraduate loans. If you borrowed for your undergraduate education, your loans are deferred when your graduate school enrollment is automatically reported to your lenders. To help you keep track of all your federal loans and your servicers, create an account on the National Student Loan Database.

As you prepare for your next educational endeavor, carefully consider how your finances factor into the equation. Make the best short-term and long-term investment decisions that will help you achieve your desired career outcome. Good luck!

What differentiates one individual from another candidate to make them appear a more desirable employee? As a current university professor and a former employee in Federal law enforcement, I am often asked this question. To be successful in this job hunt one needs to acquire requisite skills prior to employment that will demonstrate to the employer the ability to ‘hit-the-ground-running’ when hired. 

It is certainly no secret that law enforcement and analysis positions are highly sought after by a large segment of both government agencies and private sector businesses. Federal agencies report receiving thousands of applications for law enforcement positions and internship opportunities; even Disney World needs and hires intelligence analysts. In order to determine what specific skillsets these high level jobs require, I interviewed government and private sector managers to obtain the answer directly from the people who make the decision to hire.  

  1. Written Communication – Universally, each stated that the number one skill expected was that the applicant is proficient in communicating through writing. Managers cite arduous task of finding individuals who can prepare reports and other communications on a daily basis. 
  2. Data-Driven Policing – Modern policing strategies, at all levels, are extremely data directed.  Whether patrolling in a squad or hunting terrorists, performing the job begins with an analysis. Therefore, it is important that students learn various methodologies and techniques of intelligence/crime analysis. This includes skills such as flow analysis, spatial/geographic analysis, financial analysis, crime-pattern analysis, time series analysis, frequency analysis, and investigative (evidential) analysis, among others.
  3. Oral Communication – The ideal employee can deliver presentations to groups of concerned citizens, courtroom jurors, and colleagues at a COMSTAT Meeting. They are experienced in the presentation of facts and evidence, providing clear arguments for rebuttal, and responding to questions. They have performed media interviews, given 10-minute lectures, and responded impromptu to reporters’ questions.

Overall, a successful criminal justice professional is ethically and morally driven, living by high intellectual and moral standards, respecting the dignity of other persons, seeking to resolve the problems facing humanity, and committing themselves to live as responsible citizens. 

About the Author
Joe Vince is the director of the adult and traditional criminal justice programs at the Mount. He has been accepted as an expert in Federal Court with regards to firearms-related violent crime, often interpreting crime-gun and other crime data for both judges and juries. He is a nationally- and internationally-known crime-gun/law enforcement expert, being quoted in several publications, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Washington Times, USA Today and other national and international publications. He has appeared on 60 Minutes, CNN, ABC, CBS, FOX and PBS, as well as local television stations across the U.S. and internationally in Canada, Great Britain and Japan, commenting on crime and law enforcement. He is also the President of Crime Gun Solutions LLC, a private company dedicated to assisting and training law enforcement and other groups.

Though many professionals dream of a straight and narrow career path, many face twists, turns, bumps, and surprises along the way. What do you do when life throws you lemons, or onions, or whatever it throws at you? Switching careers may be a good option if you are seeking a better fit or a new challenge. A career is more than just an occupation – it is a culmination of your time and energy, and an opportunity to find purpose and fulfillment for yourself and those around you by combining your passions, values, and strengths. Begin your journey to fulfillment with these helpful tips.

  1. Reflect and Evaluate. Consider your personality. The more you know about yourself, and your strengths, weaknesses, interests, and personality, the better. Reflect on your past or current career to consider what worked well and what didn’t. Ask yourself how you can leverage your skills and accomplishments from the former career and direct them towards a new career. Also, how might you become more qualified for the new career? 
  2. Do Your Research. Learn as much as you can about your area of interest. Read articles, speak with industry professionals, and find ways to gain new experiences in the field.
  3. Make a Plan. Set realistic and measurable goals as you create a plan for the transition. Know what you will need to accomplish in order to make the change, such as earning a new degree or developing new skills. Work toward short-term goals and long-term goals one step at a time.
  4. Find Supporters. Know whom you can turn to for support and guidance. Find career mentors or individuals who care about you and offer support and relevant advice. Professional associations, networking groups, academic advisors, and faculty can be very helpful for making these new connections.
  5. Be Positive. Inevitably, family, friends, and others will ask questions about your decision to change careers. Craft a one-minute overview of why you are switching careers. Avoid negative reasons and concentrate on the positive – focus on what you learned, what motivates you, and how you are directing your efforts. 

Although career changers can face a wide spectrum of challenges, the payoff comes once you begin a new way to make a living and build a life. 

The Career Center at Mount St. Mary’s University bridges the classroom to your career. Our mission is to inspire, educate, and motivate students and alumni to take an active role in their career development and to discover their vocation. We provide career counseling, educational programming, and employer services to enrich each individual's experience at the Mount.

It’s always a good time to consider how you are portrayed online. With today’s rapidly changing tools for communication, a professional must keep a meticulous eye on his or her online presence, especially if undergoing a job or internship search. Although many social networks are designed for your personal life, the information you post can still be readily available to professional contacts. Thankfully, there are several tools and settings that can help you put your best foot forward.

  1. Facebook – Facebook use is so common that when an employer receives a resume, they go to Facebook to learn more about you. First, consider your photos: A professional profile photo is a good idea if you are in a job or internship search. Also, consider a generic cover photo or no photo at all, and remember that cover photos are always public images. Delete and “untag” all photos that may show you in an unprofessional light. You’ll also want to lock your timeline from public view and reconsider your “likes” and group memberships.
  2. LinkedIn – A professional photo is a must on LinkedIn. Give yourself a title, which could be your current position or “Graduate Student at Mount St. Mary’s University.” Fill out a profile of your professional and educational activities, including tasks, clubs, committees, and volunteer experiences. Begin linking with people you know and those you would like to get to know professionally. Join groups in your field of interest to meet like-minded professionals.
  3. Google – Have you ever “googled” yourself? Try several combinations of your name with a city, state, university, or other affiliations to check your Internet presence. Be sure there are no questionable photos or information associated with you. To monitor this daily, set a Google Alert so that you receive an email any time something new appears about you on online.
  4. Consider your email address Your email address should be professional and generic, especially if you are including it on your resume or LinkedIn profile. Try something simple like

The Internet is full of tools and networks that can help you build or disassemble your personal brand by sharing appropriate/inappropriate videos, photos, articles, links, and information. Explore your options, like Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, and Vine to find the best platforms to share your professional knowledge and get connected. Make these resources work for you – not against you.

The Career Center at Mount St. Mary’s University bridges the classroom to your career. Our mission is to inspire, educate, and motivate students and alumni to take an active role in their career development and to discover their vocation. We provide career counseling, educational programming, and employer services to enrich each individual's experience at the Mount.

16300 Old Emmitsburg Road | Emmitsburg, MD 21727
Map & Directions | | 301-447-6122
Frederick Campus | 5350 Spectrum Drive | Frederick, MD 21703
Map & Directions | | 301-682-8315