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Criminal Justice Alumni Profiles


John Matz

Sheriff, Winnebago County

Todd Christopherson

Chief Deputy, Winnebago County

Todd Christie

Captain

Jail Division

Winnebago County

Learn more about Sheriff Matz, Chief Deputy Christopherson, and Captain Christie

As a consumer, students have many choices available to them when pursuing an education in the field of criminal justice. With over 80 years of combined experience, choosing the UW-Oshkosh Criminal Justice curriculum was clearly the right choice for us. The program content, instruction, and collaborations clearly formed the cornerstone for our professional success. Many of the contacts and partnerships formed while enrolled in the curriculum are still paying tangible dividends today. From statistical analysis of programing to understanding the dynamics of the “courtroom work group”, the lessons we learned in the academic setting have proven fully transferable to our real-world work experiences. If you are looking to gain a competitive edge in a crowded job market, the skill set you need is waiting for you at UW-Oshkosh Department of Criminal Justice.

Bill Singleton

UWO ’97

White House Champion of Change for Building Bridges Between Youth and Law Enforcement Award Recipient (2015)

Champions of Change Video

Milwaukee Business Journal’s “40 under 40” winner (2012)

40 under 40 Winners

Learn more about Bill

From undercover narcotics to City of Milwaukee Police officer to entrepreneur, I’ve always had one thing to fall back on – my Criminal Justice Degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

As I look back at my college years (1992-1997), I realized that there were three things that stuck out as catalysts for my entire career.

  1. Course Work
  2. Internships
  3. Relationships

When I entered UW-Oshkosh in the fall of ’92 I had never been away from home (Cudahy, WI). I was home sick, but I knew that I had to continue to push on and stay the course. I could always count on the criminal justice course work to keep me engaged and wanted to stay on campus and not go back home. So much so that after my sophomore year, I moved up to Oshkosh until I graduated.

I was fortunate to have Dr. David Jones as my advisor and he provided me with a clear road map for success. I knew the courses were going to be challenging, but I also knew that my advisor and my professors were there to encourage and assist me on this journey.

I quickly learned that after I completed my Intro to Criminal Justice course, I wanted to focus on law enforcement. I didn’t know exactly where that would lead me, but that was my path.

During my senior year, Dr. Jones urged me to schedule an internship.  I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to intern at two different police departments and that further solidified my decision to pursue a career in law enforcement. Without the counsel and encouragement from Dr. Jones, I probably would have not enrolled in an internship and I would have missed out on that “real-life” experience during my stay at UW-Oshkosh.

My Criminal Justice Issues class with Dr. Susan Reed was probably my most challenging, but rewarding class. I learned how to identify problems, analyze and provide decisions and solutions to current issues in our community. This class was instrumental for me during my law enforcement career – especially when I was a member of the Milwaukee Police Department’s Community Prosecution Unit.

It was during that time that our team worked on numerous community projects and develop relationships with community members that fueled inclusion, understanding and collaboration toward making neighborhoods safer. The work that I participated in during my time at MPD led me to the White House where I, accepted on behalf of our team, the award for White House Champion of Change for Building Bridges Between Youth and Law Enforcement.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJjASvUk0CU&t=3s

In addition to being at the White House, I represented our department as the 2012 Milwaukee Business Journal’s Top 40 under 40. This was a huge honor as it was noted that I was the only officer to ever receive this award in the history of the Milwaukee Police Department.

https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/blog/2012/01/business-journal-names-forty-under-40.html

While at UW-Oshkosh I started to understand the importance of relationships, networking and communication. That skill stuck with me throughout my career and I developed it each year as it proved to be the most useful tool in my toolbox – cultivating meaningful relationships.

I was presented with an opportunity to become a partner at Vistelar, a training and consulting company that addresses the entire spectrum of human conflict and as hard as the decision was to leave law enforcement I felt confident that my path and my preparation from UW-Oshkosh through MPD made my decision to become an entrepreneur much easier. While at Vistelar, I’ve been able to utilize my degree to establish partnerships with the International Association for Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, International Parking and Mobility Institute, National Retail Federation, International Association of Healthcare Security and Safety and VirTra.

The course work, real life experiences and relationship building I experienced at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh has enabled me to thrive in my new career while still being able to expand and use my degree to benefit my family and my community.

I will be forever grateful to the Criminal Justice department at UW-Oshkosh for pushing me to expand my potential and growth. Go Titans!!!

Steven G. Brandl, Ph.D.

Professor of Criminal Justice, UW Milwaukee

UWO ’85 Criminal Justice Major

Author of Police in America and Criminal Investigation

 

 

Learn more about Steven

I trace the roots of my success as a Professor to the Criminal Justice Program at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from UW-Oshkosh in 1985. After graduating from UWO, I went to Michigan State University and received my Masters of Science degree in Criminal Justice (1988). After working for a short time at the U.S. Department of the Treasury in Washington D.C., I returned to Michigan State University to pursue a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice; I received that degree in 1991. Since 1992, I have been a Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where I teach and conducted research on a variety of topics related to policing. One of my best students at UWM was Professor Matt Richie.

My undergraduate experience at UWO provided the foundation for my future studies in criminal justice and I credit UWO for much of my career success. Although I had many in-state options for which university to attend for a major in criminal justice, I chose UWO because of what I believed was a good school with a sold criminal justice program. I was not disappointed. With relatively small classes and professors (such as Professor David Jones) who genuinely cared about students’ success, I received a quality education that prepared me well for my future studies. In fact, I decided to pursue a Master degree and attend Michigan State after graduating UWO because of a criminal justice professor who I had for several classes at UWO. I greatly admired him, and he had attended Michigan State for his Ph.D. After leaving UWO, I worked with him on several projects. To this day we still remain in contact.

Whenever I reflect on my 30+ year career in the criminal justice field, I always find myself grateful that I made the decision as an 18-year-old to attend UW-Oshkosh. I’m proud to call myself a graduate of your University.

Alicia Rodriguez

Attorney, McCarty Law LLP

UWO ’14 Criminal Justice Major

 

 

Learn more about Alicia

I graduated from UW-Oshkosh in 2014 with a major in Criminal Justice. I went on to attend Marquette University Law School graduating with a Juris Doctorate degree in 2020 and am currently working at McCarty Law LLP specializing in estate planning and elder law. I am also a member of the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps in the Wisconsin Army National Guard. The Criminal Justice Department at UW-Oshkosh taught me many skills that have helped me as I continued my education and in my professional life. Learning the key criminal justice concepts taught at all levels of the Criminal Justice Department’s courses were essential to my success in law school and in the JAG Corps. Additionally, the oral and written communication skills, study habits, critical thinking, and problem solving abilities I developed while working towards my criminal justice degree continue to serve me well in my career.

Derek Brown

Attorney, Eisenberg Law Offices

UWO ’15 Criminal Justice and Political Science Major – Magna Cum Laude

 

 

Learn more about Derek

Derek Brown joined Eisenberg Law Offices as an attorney in September, 2019. Previously, he worked for one year as a staff attorney for four Dane County Circuit Court judges. During his time at UWO, Derek worked as a teaching assistant, a research assistant, and a tutor. Derek also received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence and the best student paper award at the Midwestern Criminal Justice Association Conference. Derek graduated Cum Laude from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 2018. During his time at UW, Derek had the opportunity to work for the Wisconsin Innocence Project and as a legislative aide for Representative Terese Berceau. Derek’s practice areas include family law and criminal defense. He has experience working with both felony and misdemeanor criminal cases, divorces, juvenile delinquency, and CHIPS cases.

Jason Ruff

Digital Forensic Examiner, WI Dept. of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation

Criminal Justice Major and Sociology Minor

 

 

 

Learn more about Jason

I owe an outstanding debt to UW-Oshkosh and its criminal Justice department for having the career I could have only dreamed about. Starting out, I was able to work with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections to ensure the success of the federally mandated Prison Rape Elimination Act to uphold the safety and integrity of the states prison system; this was done by assisting in audits and setting up a unified investigative tracking system. This position would not have been possible without my criminal justice education at Oshkosh, where I was taught the importance of the correlation between just prisons and that of safer streets. After this, I was hired by the Milwaukee Police Department as an analyst working in their fusion center. There I was placed to support both the departments Sensitive Crimes Division and the Federal Human Trafficking Taskforce. In that position, I gathered intelligence and assisted local, state, and federal investigators in taking down Human trafficking organizations, assisting in locating missing persons and stopping serial sexual predators. I was able to be successful in this position due to the importance instilled in me by UWO CJ professors on having community-based victim-centered investigations. Most recently and building off what I have learned in my past positions and at Oshkosh, I have become a Digital Forensic Examiner with the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal investigation. In this position, I have worked on many major criminal cases affecting the state and get to be at the epicenter of where crime intersects with technology. The career I have had and where I am now has been a fantastic journey. To say I have learned a lot would be an understatement, but I have no doubts that my journey has been a great success due to not only the foundational knowledge I learned at UW-Oshkosh but because of the great staff and friends I met there as well.

Abigail Wallace

Legal Assistant, Finance and Management Division of Chief Counsel, IRS

UWO ’01 Criminal Justice Major

 

 

Learn more about Abigail

As a legal assistant in the Finance and Management division of Chief Counsel, IRS I am responsible for the administrative and clerical duties for the Office of Chief Counsel. I work particularly with general and tax litigation attorneys and their cases. It is my responsibility to ensure proper tracking and compliance of case records within multiple management systems. Landing the job at the IRS was, in part, due to the criminal justice program incorporating networking as part of the curriculum. To teach you how to search and connect with employers, the department works closely with UWO Career Services to host multiple networking events specific to law.

Ervin Dan Szpek

911 Telecommunicator, Waukesha County Communications

UWO ’12 Criminal Justice Major

Learn more about Dan

The Criminal Justice department at the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh provided me with skills such as working under pressure, being resourceful in finding accurate and important information, and establishing a strong work-life balance. Learning about theory and why crime happens, who is predisposed to life in the criminal justice system and why has provided me with a different view on my career than many of my colleagues. I am able to take a call from someone and not only understand the process they are about to enter but also empathize with them in one of the most difficult times of their life. Balance your personal life with work can be difficult but the skills I developed during my time at the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh’s Criminal Justice department have allowed me grow personally and professionally.

Sydney Challoner

Police Officer, City of Madison Police Dept.

UWO ’20 Criminal Justice and Psychology Major

 

 

 

 

Learn more about Sydney

In college I was involved in the Criminal Justice Association, Psi Chi (National Psychology Honors Society), and was President of Alpha Phi Sigma (National Criminal Justice Honors Society). In addition, I was a four-year member of the swim and dive team at UW Oshkosh, two of the years a team captain. After graduation I accepted a Police Officer position at the City of Madison Police Department. I have currently finished the Police Academy and am beginning field training as a Police Officer. Using the knowledge and skills from classes like Police in Modern Society and Police Deviance to help me in the Police Academy. The Police Deviance class gave me great insight into the career of policing. As part of the class we used a use of force simulator where students act as police officers and have to make decisions as to what type of use of force was appropriate for the scenario given by the simulator. Classes like this that I took at UW Oshkosh gave me a great foundation of knowledge and skill of Criminal Justice and Policing in particular that I used to help me complete the police academy. I am confident that what I have learned at UW Oshkosh and in the City of Madison Police Academy I will be able to use these skills to make a positive impact in the community. I am thankful for all of the experiences that the Criminal Justice and Psychology Department has given me, and I will use these experiences to help me build my career as a Police Officer.

Dustin Darling

Police Officer, LaCrosse Police Dept.

UWO ’12 Criminal Justice Major

 

 

 

 

Learn more about Dustin

I started my law enforcement career at the La Crosse Police Department immediately after graduating from the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh. Since being hired I have served as a patrol officer, neighborhood resource officer and community policing officer. They provided me with a strong educational background and many resources to help me succeed in this exciting career field. Coming up on eight years of service with the La Crosse Police Department, I would like to thank the Criminal Justice Department at the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh as I would not be where I am today without them!

Bryce Edwards

Operations Associate, Pharmaceutical Industry

UWO ’18 Criminal Justice Major

 

 

Learn more about Bryce

After graduation, I accepted a job as an Operations Associate within the pharmaceutical industry. Although I am not actively working in the criminal justice field, I still use the knowledge and skills that I acquired from the CJ program at UWO for many of my daily responsibilities. As an Operations Associate, I am required to run thorough background checks through government databases to make sure that new hires do not have any state or federal criminal records. I also review client contracts to ensure that no employment laws are being violated. Overall, the CJ program has helped prepare me for my professional career by teaching me critical thinking and analytical skills.