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What it's like to study Criminal at Centenary

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T.J. Woolfolk ’08

Police Officer, Annapolis Police Department

Centenary College Criminal Justice major »

When T.J. Woolfolk ’08 was young, he was fascinated by police officers. “I used to talk to cops all the time,” he recalls. After graduating from high school, T.J. took another route and began studying telecommunications at a community college, but quickly left to figure out what he really wanted to do. “A lot of people forget their dreams when they get older,” he says. “Growing up, I was the go-to person — the one who helped other people out as much as I could. Once I really sat and thought about it, I realized becoming a police officer is what I wanted to do.”

Having heard about Centenary College from two friends, T.J. applied to the College and enrolled as a Criminal Justice major. “For me, a small school was what I needed,” he explains. “A big school would have had too many distractions.”  T.J. graduated from Centenary in 2009 and immediately began to look for full-time employment while working part-time in the Security Department at Centenary. Within a year, he had completed a rigorous evaluation process and was admitted to the Police Academy for the Annapolis Police Department.

He credits the program and professors — many of whom he is still in contact with — for preparing him for the many challenges of the Policy Academy. T.J. graduated in the top 10 percent of his class in January 2010 and has been working as a police officer ever since. He also loves what he’s doing.

“It’s exactly what I thought it would be and a whole lot more. It’s gratifying to get drugs off the street, to see someone in distress and help calm them down or resolve a problem. Doing the job effectively is extremely rewarding.”

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Damien Gallegos ’10

2010 Criminal Justice Award Recipient

Centenary College Criminal Justice major »

When Damien Gallegos ’10 collected his Centenary degree last May, one of his Criminal Justice professors shook his hand and told the new graduate, “Just go and make Centenary proud.” Damien has every intention of living up to the promise he displayed as an undergraduate and recipient of the 2010 Criminal Justice Award.

His immediate plans include pursuing a career as a police officer. Shortly after graduation he began preparing for the New Jersey Civil Service exam that 300 police departments utilize to hire candidates. Damien, who graduated with a 3.795 GPA and played for the College’s NCAA Division III soccer and golf teams, is also considering law school. Either way, the Centenary alumnus feels he is well prepared for the next step of his career thanks to the comprehensive course load that included forensic science, criminal investigation, crime scene photography and a senior seminar where students “learned how to deal with different people as well as how to become good and ethical leaders.”

 “The Criminal Justice faculty brings a wide array of experiences,” Damien adds. “We have professors who were former detectives, police chiefs and investigators who have worked at the local, state and federal level. It is extremely beneficial hearing the experiences of all the professors when deciding which area of criminal justice to enter after graduation.”

In addition to wide-ranging experiences, faculty members’ dedication to individual students also made a lasting impression on Damien. “They always make themselves available to you because they want to make sure you have the best tools possible. That’s something that really reflects back on Centenary.”

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