Many students in the University of Hawaii-Maui Community College's (UH-MCC) Administration of Justice (AJ) program seek to serve and protect their community. Reese Lee recently earned an AJ degree while working full time as an adult corrections officer.
While the complexities of juggling work and school could present problems to some students, Reese saw scheduling challenges as opportunities. He organized Maui Community Correctional Center tours for his classmates and effectively addressed workplace familiarity opportunities for his AJ student peers while meeting his classroom requirements to promote a better understanding of the corrections field.
Reese served as a role model for fellow students. He even contributed to expanding the AJ program curriculum. As a result of his leadership and service, Reese received the Masaki and Momoe Kunimoto Memorial Award for Outstanding Contributions to Vocational Education, an honor that earned him statewide recognition.
UH-MCC's AJ program prepares students for careers in law enforcement, private security, corrections and related fields. The program also meets the training needs of professionals already serving in the field. Required courses and electives include criminal investigation, criminal law, Hawaiian cultural and natural resource management, juvenile justice, and police and community relations. The AJ program also incorporates a hands-on internship component, in which qualified students can earn credit for field experience.
AJ graduates can be found in nearly every sector of public safety and law enforcement in Maui County. Several graduates have gone on to high-profile law enforcement careers, such as Maui's current deputy chief of police, Clayton Tom. As AJ program coordinator, Ryan Daniels says, "Our program significantly contributes to the safety and well-being of all Maui residents, as the majority of AJ graduates go into some sort of criminal-justice career field, and many end up staying on Maui."
The AJ program attracts a significant number of students preparing for careers with federal agencies, such as the Transportation Security Administration; with local enforcement agencies, such as the state Department of Land and Natural Resources; and in private security. Some AJ students plan to continue their education and enter a field such as forensic science. According to Daniels, however, "The Maui Police Department is definitely the largest consumer of our product."
Police officers often take courses that add to their existing skill set. A UH-MCC memorandum of agreement with the Maui Police Department allows officers who have completed the Police Academy to earn credit toward an AJ degree. The AJ program also attracts many recent high school graduates interested in a career in law enforcement. Because applicants cannot enter the police force until age 21, the program gives these students a head start on preparing for the rigors of the Police Academy.
Daniels believes that classroom diversity, small class size and strong relationships with Maui employers make UH-MCC's AJ program stand out. To learn more, contact Daniels at 984-3219 or ryanbkd@ hawaii.edu. Spring registration begins early next month; so schedule an appointment with a counselor or program faculty to learn more about meeting AJ and other career goals. Also, applications are online at www.maui.hawaii.edu.
* Clyde M. Sakamoto, chancellor of Maui Community College, holds a doctorate in education. Ka'ana Mana'o means sharing thoughts. The column, which appears the fourth Sunday of each month, is penned by Maui Community College and UH-Maui staff to provide the Maui County community with information on opportunities available at UH-MCC.