Richard Funke, MS in Criminal Justice – Homeland Security student
Current occupation: Border Patrol Agent (Intelligence)
What made you decide to pursue your degree as an adult?
I want to be a leader in federal law enforcement and every day that passes more education and experience are necessary to be a competitive applicant. Couple that with the changing climate regarding law enforcement in the United States, and understanding my decision to pursue a master’s degree is easy. Law enforcement is rapidly approaching a crossroads of how we enforce laws and the expectations of how the laws are enforced. There is a growing need to provide transparent analysis of law enforcement practices to the communities we serve.
Future leaders in law enforcement need to be capable of synthesizing complex issues to develop innovative solutions that meet the expectations of professionalism, accountability, and transparency our communities deserve and expect. The only way I felt I could meet these expectations was to return to school to gain additional skills and experience to be a competitive applicant for law enforcement leadership positions.
Why did you choose to study at Tiffin University?
A few years ago I started looking for master’s programs that met three criteria. The school had to be affordable, the school had to be an accredited brick and mortar school in operation since before the invention of the internet, and I wanted instructors that were well versed in academics but also professionals in the field of criminal justice. Tiffin is a school that seems to pride itself on all three of my criteria with particular emphasis on the law enforcement professional instructors that provide real-life examples and make learning fun.
The best part about it is that my instructors are fellow law enforcement officers and it is great how they have injected real-world examples into the courses to provide a practical element to an academic topic.
What has been your experience with the program so far?
My experience with the program has been great. Tiffin University made it easy to transition back into an academic setting. I was assigned an admissions counselor who answered all my questions and assisted every step of the way. Academic counselors continue to provide information and answers to my program-related issues. I was timid about going back to school online, but the staff at Tiffin has made it simple and painless. The academics are challenging and require dedication. However, my instructors have been great. They answer questions, provide an excellent structure for the classes, and engage all students academically in the coursework. The best part about it is that my instructors are fellow law enforcement officers and it is great how they have injected real-world examples into the courses to provide a practical element to an academic topic.
What keeps you motivated to stay in the program?
My motivation to remain in the program comes down to three essential things. First, I want to make my children proud of everything I do and be the kind of role model they deserve. Second, I am halfway through my federal law enforcement career, and I want educational expertise to complement my experience to make me the best applicant for leadership positions with the Department of Homeland Security. Lastly, I want to teach Criminal Justice/Homeland Security at the university level and earning a Master of Science in Criminal Justice/Homeland Security is the first step towards that goal.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about going back to school?
You can’t afford not to invest in yourself in today’s highly competitive world, and going back to school is an easy way to invest in your professional future. I have been asked on more than one panel interview, “What have you done for self-improvement recently?” Going back to school to earn a master’s degree is not only a great answer to that question, but it also highlights your potential contribution to prospective employers that you are a serious candidate and an experienced professional with academic credentials.