Shippensburg University (Shippensburg, Pennsylvania) offers criminal justice degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate level. What makes the educational institute’s Criminal Justice Department unique is a club that helps students explore future, relevant careers first hand. “The criminal justice club is a way for us to take student education one more step farther,” says Dr. Billy Henson, Assistant Professor with the Department. “In one form or another, the criminal justice club has been a fixture at Shippensburg University for over 10 years,” adds Dr. Henson, who has been involved in running the club for almost a year.
The overwhelming majority of Shippensburg’s Bachelor of Criminal Justice and Master of Administration Justice students secure employment within the criminal justice system. “Most go into either local or state law enforcement. Pennsylvania State Police is especially popular with our students,” Dr. Henson describes. He adds that some graduates go on to work in corrections, probation or parole or to pursue a law degree as well.
Membership to the club has also helped graduates land criminal justice careers. “First, it looks very good on their resumes, especially if they had a leadership position within the club,” explains Dr. Henson. “Secondly, and more importantly, it helps provide students with a better understanding of potential careers, as well as giving them contacts in the field”.
Throughout the school year, members of the criminal justice club attend talks delivered by criminal justice experts including professionals that work for the FBI, local police departments, private security firms, the courts and correctional systems. Club organizers try to get as many local speakers as possible, so that students can network with potential employers or colleagues. Dr. Henson adds that field trips are organized so that students can immerse themselves in their future work environments. “This semester the club will be touring a local police department and viewing a K-9 demonstration, as well as touring a local county jail”. Dr. Henson shares that the clubs hopes to take students on bigger trips in the near future, including one to Washington D.C.
Community service is also an important mandate of the criminal justice club. In the past, members have participated in the Relay for Life and clothing drives; the club plans to begin volunteering with Adopt-a-Highway this semester.
Dr. Henson encourages more students to join the criminal justice club because of the educational and career benefits it provides. “We hope to make it one of the organizations that other clubs model themselves after”.