Officer Ryan Bessette, left, and Lieutenant Scott Stevenson, right, talk to NVCC students about education and careers in criminal justice.
Waterbury, Conn. - After administering a major/career path survey, Nicole Ariyavatkul, Bridge to College program coordinator, and Sam Johnson, counselor in the Center for Academic Planning and Student Success (CAPSS), discovered that several members of the Male Encouragement Network (M.E.N.) were pursuing careers in criminal justice.
In line with the group's mission, M.E.N. hosts monthly guest speakers to help guide male students through their academic and professional pathways. Ultimately, the group's goal is to increase male retention at NVCC and improve college completion rates.
In November, Waterbury Community Relations officers Lieutenant Scott Stevenson and Ryan Bessette were invited to NVCC to speak with students about preparing for a career in criminal justice.
"Diversify yourself," said Lt. Stevenson, a long-time member of the force. "My only regret is not completing college early in my life because I've reached a point in my career where that could really open doors for me."
Lt. Stevenson explained that most, if not all administrative-level law enforcement jobs now require a bachelor's degree for application, which is something Officer Bessette acquired early on. Agreeing with Lt. Stevenson, he reiterated that "as life goes on, there's only more challenges."
Officer Bessette is a 2003 NVCC alum and holds an associate degree in criminal justice. After graduating, he transferred his credits and finished a bachelor's degree in political science while waiting to turn of age to apply for the Police Academy. After he was hired in Waterbury, he enrolled in Boston University's online master's program and earned his graduate degree while working the nightshift.
"I just didn't stop," said Officer Bessette. "I think once you stop its harder to make time. But really, working the night shift was the perfect opportunity to take classes during the day."
After sharing stories about their own personal and career growth, the officers talked with students about current barriers toward college completion and gave some insight into the process of becoming a police officer, including the formidable polygraph test.
"The most important thing that you need to know now is what your challenges are and what your challenges will be in the future," said Lt. Stevenson. "Once you know what you're up against, it's much easier to stay focused on your goals."