Skip to content
Contact USI

Alumni Spotlight

Criminal Justice Alumni Spotlight

Whether it is law enforcement, corrections, or social work, many of our graduates go on to find meaningful careers in the private and public sector. Are you a USI Criminal Justice Alumni? Please send a head shot and a brief paragraph to Dr. Melissa Stacer explaining your current position and how you feel the Criminal Justice program helped you as a criminal justice practitioner.

Carlos Cruz
Class of 2021

Portrait of Carlos Cruz sitting on stairs

Current position: Correctional Officer
Current employer: Branchville Correctional Facilty

I graduated from USI in 2021 with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, and I’m currently a correctional officer at Branchville Correctional Facility as well as pursuing my Master of Arts in Criminal Justice at USI. The Criminal Justice program at USI has has helped me tremendously understand multiple aspects within the our criminal justice system as well as having the opportunity to learn from fellows students and professors.

Serena Gravil
Class of 2018

Portrait of Serena Gravil in orange blouse

Current position: Family Case Manager 2
Current employer: Vanderburgh County DCS

I graduated from USI in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and I am currently employed as a social worker for the Department of Child Services while continuing my education through the MACJ program. The MACJ program provides the opportunity to learn and develop critical thinking skills needed on the field through the examination of patterns and changes within the system, impact on offenders and communities, overincarceration and alternatives to prevent or reduce crime, criminal justices policies success or failure, and direction for future criminal justice research and policy through collaboration with a diverse group of people who have different experiences within the criminal justice system.

Past alumni spotlights:

Taylor Merriss
Class of 2014

Portrait of Taylor Merris in uniform in front of U.S. flag

Current Position: Special Projects Coordinator/Assistant
Public Information Officer

Current Employer: Evansville Police Department

A year after graduating from USI, I joined the Evansville Police Department. During my training, my studies at USI were very beneficial to me. Though a college degree isn’t necessary for our department, I felt that I had a head start on some of the recruits in my academy class. One of my strengths was the law portion, which I credit to my classes at USI. While playing on the women’s Golf team and majoring in two programs, the professors were very accommodating to my schedule.

I worked patrol for four years before becoming the Special Projects Coordinator in January of this year. Part of my job criteria is to help bridge the gap between the community and the police department, by humanizing the badge. I’m very grateful for the position that I’m in: it allows me to speak to community leaders about local issues, socialize with the youth of Evansville, and share that we as police officers are human too amongst many other outreach events that I’m able to attend in this position.

Ashley Abbott (Oglesby)
Class of 2015

Portrait of Ashley Abbott (Oglesby)

Current Position: Lead Clinician

Current Employer: Adult & Child Health

"Adult & Child Health is a Community Mental Health Center that provides holistic care to clients and under served community members residing in the Central Indiana area. My current position as the Lead Clinician for my community's local school system has allowed me to further practice and develop the skills and education that I obtained from my time at USI. In a typical day, I work one-on-one with children and adolescents who have or are experiencing trauma, depression, anxiety, and PTSD, among other mental health ailments. I work one-on-one with the youth and their families to develop coping, problem solving, communication, and other life skills needed to overcome the challenges they face as well as to provide case management services connecting these youth and their families to much needed resources that can further promote a positive livelihood and positive outcomes for them. My education at USI is seen daily in my work. I am able to identify barriers that these families often face to receiving needed care due to their status economically, legally, or socially and am able to negotiate and obtain resources for them to achieve their goals from the skills and education obtained in my degree. My time spent at USI has instilled a sense of confidence in my education and skills, as well as a sense of value to my work. My Criminal Justice degree will forever play a meaningful part in my ability to adapt to the changes in the community for those I serve, as well as allow me to meet my clients where they are in their journey for success."

Anna Baumgartner
Class of 2012

"Ireland Home Based Services is a social services agency in southern Indiana that offers Home Based Services to families referred from the Department of Child Services and/or Juvenile Probation. In my 6 years of employment at Ireland I have held the position of a Home Based Caseworker, Field Staff Trainer, Training Specialist Supervisor, Quality Assurance Officer, and Referral Coordinator.  My current position involves processing referrals for services which have been deemed appropriate for families involved.  On a regular basis I communicate with our local state DCS employees, probation officers and law enforcement to obtain information about how these families became involved and what services would best fit the family’s needs. Often times, these individuals have a criminal background that has put a dent in their goals of reunification. I started my current career the week after graduation and quickly learned that my Criminal Justice degree afforded me an ideal skill set to work in the Social Services field.  During my first year of employment I maintained a caseload of 10-15 cases; working with those involved on reunification with their children. Those involved were riddled with felony convictions, substance use struggles, previous evictions, etc. With my degree, I was able to objectively identify that these families had odds against them but that there were opportunities to make the change. The families involved also needed someone confident, resourceful, and determined to provide them with the tools they needed to succeed. The Criminal Justice Program at USI provided me with the tools to excel on these exact characteristics. The lectures, journaling, presentations, and group projects were all completed with supportive guidance from professors and fellow colleges. I am grateful for the opportunities that have been afforded to me in my career and look forward to those that may come up in my future."

Portrait of Anna Baumgartner in floral blouse

Current Position: Referral Coordinator

Current Employer: Ireland Home Based Services

Ryan C. Eagleson
Class of 2016

"Earning a Criminal Justice degree at USI provided me with specific insight and knowledge of our country’s legal system. I was able to explore and learn about several subdisciplines within criminal justice, challenging me to find my true passion. The program helped me develop the skills necessary to learn and think critically in any situation, which is absolutely required in the profession of policing. The faculty within the Criminal Justice program went out of their way to ensure students fully understood course material to ensure student success. The faculty also helped students pursue internships all over the Criminal Justice field, providing many students with a smooth transition between the degree program to the professional work force. Without USI, I can safely say I would not be where I am today. I would encourage any person desiring to enter any Criminal Justice profession to challenge themselves with the USI Criminal Justice program."

Portrait of Ryan C. Eagleson in uniform in front of brick wall

Current Position: Motor Patrol Officer

Current Employer: Evansville Police Department

Josh Kemp
Class of 2011

Portrait of Josh Kemp in black polo in front of white background

Current Position: Senior Officer

Current Employer: Federal Bureau of Prisons

"Receiving an education and a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice Studies at USI has been one of the most rewarding and humbling experiences in my life. Having a college education can give you a competitive advantage on both entering the law enforcement profession as well as potential promotions. Criminal Justice Studies can open the door to several jobs and career paths in law enforcement. More specifically, this program taught me how to effectively speak in large groups, report writing, and maintaining professionalism at all times."

Erica Richardson
Class of 2018

"Getting my degree in criminal justice from the University of Southern Indiana was very important and useful.  Getting a college education was crucial not only for bettering myself, but for pursuing a career. It gave me the wisdom and knowledge that I needed in order to achieve my goals and be successful in my everyday life. Getting my CJ degree at USI was helpful in obtaining my position as a youth worker with the Department of Juvenile Justice because I had the skills that were required for the job. I took classes and learned about criminal behavior so being able to put my knowledge to use was a main goal in pursuing a career. I eventually want to become a juvenile probation officer, so working in a detention center with juveniles on a daily basis is a good way to get my foot in the door for future endeavors. My degree has provided insight because I understand as to why some of the youth commit crime and reoffend. Some of the material that I learned at USI focused on recidivism and rehabilitation. It is very useful when seeing these things in action and happening on a day to day basis.  Throughout college, I gained lifelong friends, and built close-knit relationships with professors. My experience at USI was unforgettable and - as far as college goes - 10/10, recommend."

Portrait of Erica Richardson in window

Current Position: Youth Worker

Current Employer: Warren Regional Juvenile Detention