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Beyond the badge: Centenary University students gain insights into criminal justice careers

New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick J. Callahan presents NJSP opportunities as a guest speaker for spring semester course highlighting career opportunities in criminal justice.

HACKETTSTOWN, NJ (Warren County) – As the 100th anniversary of the New Jersey State Police (NJSP) approached, criminal justice students at Centenary University received a special guest: Col. Patrick J. Callahan, superintendent of the NJSP. Col. Callahan was on campus to share career insights with students enrolled in Careers in Criminal Justice, a course taught by Douglas Compton, Ed.D., assistant professor of criminal justice.

Through the course, Dr. Compton invites professionals from the criminal justice system to address students on the various career opportunities available after they successfully graduate with a criminal justice degree. “This course teaches students about the different areas of the criminal justice system, from law enforcement to the court system, corrections, and well-known entities such as the New Jersey State Police,” said Dr. Compton, noting that 24 students—mostly freshmen—are enrolled. “My goal is to encourage students to explore as much as possible now, so we can get them on the right track later with internships and career placement. Col. Callahan’s visit to campus was a tremendous honor and a real treat for Centenary students.”

During his lecture, Col. Callahan discussed his distinguished career with the NJSP, and the proud history of the agency, which celebrated its 100th anniversary on March 29. The son of a state trooper, Col. Callahan noted that his initial career goal didn’t include becoming New Jersey’s top cop. He told the students, “Years ago I signed up to be a trooper. I did not sign up to be a colonel and be on the governor’s executive cabinet doing press conferences three times a week. But opportunities present themselves to you, so you need to run with them. I love being a trooper.”

Other guest speakers this semester—including several Centenary University alumni who are currently in the criminal justice system—include a municipal police officer, probation officer, U.S. Army staff sergeant, U.S. postal inspector, sheriff’s officer, county prosecutor, attorney/public defender, state corrections officer, parole officer, court administrator, and judge.

A former police officer in Washington Township, NJ, Dr. Compton earned his master’s degree in leadership and public administration from Centenary in 2006, along with his doctorate from Centenary in 2019. Along the way, he was mentored by Joseph P. Linskey, Ed.D., a professor of criminal justice and sociology and the founder of the University’s bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and master’s degree in leadership & public administration. “Dr. Linskey taught me well, and now I am preparing the next generation of future criminal justice professionals,” Dr. Compton said. “In the criminal justice profession, you never know where you’ll go next. There are so many exciting opportunities out there.”

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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