Alumna finds career in federal government law enforcement
Jennifer Garcia ’09 grew up in San Diego and while she was a student at Southwest HS, she participated in the Police Explorers program, setting up her curiosity for a future in law enforcement. With numerous opportunities to attend college both locally and in California, she found SOU via the internet by searching for criminal justice forensics programs.
After attending a preview day on campus with her father, she was greeted with a rare snow storm in Ashland, which made her visit enchanted beyond the norm. She fell in love with the beauty of campus, the town and surrounding Siskiyou Mountains. But it was a dedicated admissions counselor who ran out the door and caught her and her father just leaving the parking lot, who announced that SOU would be part of the Western Undergraduate Exchange, which for participating states, charged only one-and one-half times the in-state tuition rate to attend full time. With the dramatic tuition reduction, she convinced her family that SOU was the right fit for her.
On campus, she lived in the Greensprings D housing complex. “I loved the togetherness and family atmosphere of my floor in Greensprings. We had a real sense of community and we all had so much fun,” said Jennifer. A Criminal Law course quickly made her a critical thinker because of its challenging nature. “Lore Rutz-Burri was a great teacher and mentor with a great personality and passionate and energetic teaching style,” she added.
She became a Resident Assistant in the Greensprings complex as a sophomore and was the student representative to the criminal justice faculty from the Criminology Club. She also served as the President of the Latino Student Union. By coming to SOU with 16 credit hours from advanced placement courses and taking summer courses in San Diego, Jennifer was able to graduate in three years, August of 2009, with her bachelor’s in criminal justice. She also got to apply her senior capstone to an internship opportunity in San Diego with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS). “My experience with NCIS San Diego really opened my eyes to law enforcement opportunities within the federal government,” she said.
With the great recession of 2008 hindering job opportunities, she finally secured a full-time position with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for one year. Then she was hired as a Special Agent with the US Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI) at Edwards Air Force Base in southern California. Four years later, she transferred to the Department of Defense’s DCIS, where she conducts fraud investigations of white-collar crime in southern California.
“My experience at SOU was unforgettable. From the minute I stepped on to the beautiful campus, to the wonderful friends I made, and the exceptional teachers I had that taught me lifelong lessons that I employ in my daily life. SOU will forever be a part of me and I will forever cherish my time there.”
Learn More: DoD/DCIS