Following his high school graduation in 1995, Mark Galloway enrolled in college as a pre-law honors student. His undergraduate education seemed to be on track, until it wasn't.
"Life got in the way, and I made one of the biggest mistakes of my life when I quit," he said. "I later went back to school and got an Associate of Science in Information Technology, but IT was never my passion. I can do IT, I am good at IT, but IT doesn't give me the personal satisfaction that I want. So, after being in IT for 20 years, I decided it was time for a change."
Galloway is now enrolled in the LSU Alexandria online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice program, and he hopes to graduate in Fall 2021.
Searching With Both Eyes Open
When Galloway was ready to get back into school, he searched for universities that offered online degree programs in criminal justice. Working a full-time job and doing IT consulting on the side, in addition to being a husband and father to three boys, meant carving out time to obtain his bachelor's degree.
"I chose LSUA for multiple reasons," he said. "First, LSUA is a part of the Louisiana State University system, which is nationally recognized in academics. Second, LSUA offered the exact degree program I wanted, 100 percent online. Third, the BS in Criminal Justice degree meets the requirements for the LSAT exam and my degree would be recognized at LSU Law School in Baton Rouge."
Though Galloway hasn't been in the program for long, he can already name a course that left a mark.
"I have only completed two classes thus far, but my favorite was CJUS 2131: Police Process," he said. "It was interesting to see the many methods of policing and how policing has changed over the centuries from Great Britain, through the U.S. Colonies and into modern time."
Family Has His Back
Galloway's family played a major role in his shift away from IT.
"My wife supports me going back to school," he said. "She knows that I have talked about this for many years and how much I regretted giving up before. My kids think it is cool that I am in school, but they don't like that what little free time I had before is now dedicated to my major career change."
Finding time to do it all is no cake walk. "It is hard," he said. "I am an active husband and father, so it has been an adjustment to dedicate time to studying and learning while still balancing daily life. I have cut back on my consulting hours as well to try and balance work, life and school a little easier. I have an amazing wife and she has stepped up and helped me carry the load and assisted in helping me make time."
From One Field to Another
There has yet to be any major crossover between IT and the criminal justice program for Galloway. "My current job is IT-related, so my degree cannot be utilized in my current position," he said. "However, I do feel that each day completed puts me closer to getting my dream job and allowing me to live to my fullest potential."
Honing his writing skills through the online program has benefited Galloway. "Being out of school for a very long time had dulled my writing skills," he said. "I feel I can communicate better now after taking the classes, both at work and in my personal life."
Galloway's advice for current and prospective students: "Properly gauge the amount of time and degree of dedication you will need to commit to school and learning. Take the opportunity seriously. Don't end up in the pitfall where you think you have more time and end up 20 years later starting over.
"I am fortunate to have another shot at my dream. However, that is luck and I won't take the opportunity for granted this time."
Learn more about LSUA's online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice program.
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