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Student Spotlight - Melissa Suarez

Regis University MS Criminology student Melissa Suarez
Master of Science in Criminology
2015

Tell me about your professional and educational background before you enrolled in our criminology program.
I received my undergraduate degree in sociology, political science and criminal justice. After graduation I joined the army and spent eight years in the military. When I got out, I went to work for Missile Defense which is where I am currently employed as a ballistic missile defense watch officer. I basically make sure that we have all of the assets we need to defend our areas worldwide 24/7. I make sure our whole national and international defense network, in regards to radar, interceptors, and satellites, is working.

After my time in the military, I also decided to get my master’s degree. I choose Regis because two of my coworkers were also earning their degrees at Regis and had nothing but good things to say about it.

What led you to seek a criminology degree?
I have always been interested in criminology. However, I got out of the army at a time when police forces weren’t hiring anybody that hadn’t already been laid off from the force. It was during the recession and it was a really hard time to find a criminology related job.

As a result, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. In the army, we spent so much time dealing with the offenders that I really would love to focus more on the victims and victim advocacy. I’m not involved with victim advocacy currently, but I am still interested in pursuing that when I retire from Missile Defense.

What about Regis’ M.S. in Criminology stood out to you that helped lead to your decision to enroll at Regis?
A lot of my friends and former military service members were attending schools where they found it difficult to get individual attention. However, when my coworkers started talking about Regis, I looked it up and they had a good reputation and programs offering exactly what I was interested it in. I made some phone calls and talked with a few people and found the school had a personal touch. I was even able to talk with the head of the criminology department. Regis just gave me a very warm feeling. Despite the fact that I’m married with children and work full-time, they made it known that class would be built around me and assured me I could fit it into my life.

I live in Colorado Springs and they didn’t even have a criminology department down here, but they found professors who would come here and teach me one-on-one. I did a number of direct studies that I was able to personalize to my interests and goals. My professors would ask me what I wanted to learn within the specific constraints of the class and would then tailor the readings to what I wanted to learn.

How did your degree help you in your current career to reach you career goals and aspirations?
The degree program woke me up a bit and got my juices flowing again. Unless there is a major world threat going on, my current job is very similar day in day out. Through the criminology program, I was able to delve into some very interesting topics which got me out of the whole day to day slump that your regular job can cause you.

What is your favorite class and why?
It’s difficulty to pick just one course. Professor Browne gave me advice early on to keep my eye on the thesis I’d be required to write by the end of the program. I developed it over time using the classes to help create the paper as I went along. By the time I got to the capstone class, for all intents and purposes, I was basically done with my thesis. My topic was on online child sex tourism where people basically engage in child prostitution online using webcams and they get paid via online transaction or amazon gift cards. It was a very heavy topic, but I learned a lot.

What advice do you have for incoming students?
Don’t stop. Don’t take breaks between your classes. Enroll, commit and just keep going!

What are some standout benefits of Regis’s criminology program?
You can’t beat having professors teach you things that they have actually experienced in real life. The professors have so much experience-- actual real world experience. You have professors that were in the field for 20 plus years and now they are teaching. I don’t think you’ll find a department that is so willing to bend over backwards to help you learn.

Learn more about earning a criminology degree at Regis University. Call us at 877.820.0581 to speak with an admissions counselor. Or, request information or visit our resource center to gain more insight on the criminology and criminal justice industry.

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