Alumni Spotlight: Sean McDowell
A committed, soft-spoken leader is how Criminal Justice Professor Frank Jones describes Sean McDowell (Criminal Justice ‘19). “The other Criminal Justice faculty and I saw that Sean had the desirable characteristics to become a successful police officer: honesty; maturity; and the ability to make critical decisions, get along well with everyone, respect diversity, and maintain his physical fitness,” Jones adds. He remembers seeing Sean run from one building in Henniker to the next to stay in shape.
At NEC, Sean was active in the Criminal Justice Club and was elected club president by his peers. Under his leadership, the club won Student Organization Event of the Year and the Diversity Award.
But it was not until his sophomore year that Sean knew he wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement. “I had actually been going back and forth between engineering and criminal justice for a while,” he explains, “but my criminal justice classes really made the decision for me. My professors had a lot of experience and war stories from their time in law enforcement. I loved hearing their stories.”
In his senior year, he set his sights on the Metro Police Department (MPD) during the Criminal Justice program’s annual senior trip to Washington, D.C. After doing two ride-alongs with MPD officers and watching the MPD recruitment video, Sean knew he wanted to join the MPD. After graduation, his professors connected him to some of NEC’s Criminal Justice alumni working for the MPD. “I was hired right away, and I moved three months later,” Sean says. “I’m still getting used to the area; everything is so fast paced here. But I love working in D.C.”
Sean patrols the southeast area of D.C., and after almost two years on the job, he has already seen a lot. “What I’ve seen is crazy, both good and bad, especially as someone who came from a small town in Connecticut. I was stationed at the Capitol for a month of 12-hour shifts after January 6, 2021.”
But he has his ways of coping with all the things he sees on the job: reading, specifically poetry; going for walks or runs; working out; spending time with friends; travelling to clear his head.
Sean is figuring out where he ultimately wants his career to go, but he is happy to help the next round of Criminal Justice students find their footing in the field. A year after taking his senior trip to Washington, D.C., Sean greeted NEC’s next senior class when they arrived at the MPD facility in 2020. “It’s really cool to have been on both sides of that experience, first as a student and now as an officer in the field,” Sean states. “I love working in criminal justice and helping make my community better. I don’t have as many war stories as my professors do, but I enjoy sharing the experiences I’ve had so far with the next class as they look ahead to their careers.”
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