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From Classroom to Patrol Car: How Immaculata’s Criminology Degree Shaped Alumna’s Journey to Policing

Woman in police uniform in front of campus building

When criminology major Jasmine Hess ’23 needed to take a science class to fulfill a core curriculum requirement during her senior year at Immaculata, her advisor, Lisa Brown, suggested forensic science. Brown knew Hess was interested in law enforcement and thought Hess would enjoy learning about crime scene investigations in the class.

“I loved that course and had so much fun with it!” Hess said, adding that chemistry professor Sister Rose Mulligan, IHM, Ph.D., made the course interesting for non-science majors. Hess learned to identify and analyze evidence, dust for fingerprints and examine DNA—all crucial skills that she could apply to pursue her goal of becoming a police officer.

Hess’s criminology classes included discussions of police tactics, how to balance personal privacy with national security and other current issues in the field. She valued her interactions with classmates who had diverse perspectives on these subjects. “Agreeing with everyone gets boring easily! You might not change your view, but you can see it from the other person’s side,” she said. She honed her communication skills through active engagement in her classes.

After graduating from Immaculata, Hess entered a training program to become a municipal police officer. When she and her fellow cadets studied evidence collection, she brought her notes from her forensic science class and was pleased to demonstrate how much she already knew about fingerprinting. When the police department in Upper Uwchlan Township in Pennsylvania hired Hess, she invited Brown, her advisor, to her swearing-in ceremony as a police officer.

Hess’s responsibilities as an officer vary daily, often involving unpredictable situations. “We always have to be prepared, mentally and physically,” Hess said. Sometimes people’s emotions run high, whether they are angry because of a domestic dispute or having a mental health crisis. She often asks people, “How can we help you right now?” Especially when she responds to mental health calls, she said, “I have a good, calming presence. I show compassion to people we interact with who are having a bad day and a rough time.”

As she patrols her community, she smiles and waves to people, making sure they see her in uniform and keeping an eye out for anything that might be amiss. She promotes public safety through positive interactions with residents, and she noted with pride that her department has a good relationship with the community and a sense of mutual respect.

According to Hess, her classroom discussions at Immaculata helped prepare her for serving as a police officer. “Ninety percent of my job entails talking to people. People who have different opinions or come from all walks of life,” she said.

As she reflected on the six months she has had in law enforcement, Hess thanked Immaculata and all the faculty for their support and the career preparation she received. “I loved my time at IU. I do better in a smaller classroom atmosphere, and IU was a perfect fit for me. The staff and faculty truly want you to succeed and do their best to give you the tools you’ll need in whatever field you choose to pursue. If you need additional help, all you need to do is ask, and the tutors/professors will be happy to help.”

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