Criminal Minds: A Chat with Criminal Justice Program Chair Laurie Rosas

Posted by on July 24, 2014

Laurie Rosas has spent much of her professional career involved with those on the wrong side of the justice system. Criminal justice program (CJ) chair at the Minnesota School of Business-St. Cloud, Rosas uses her wide range of experiences to show students the variety of careers available to those with a CJ degree and also to expose them to the complex issues which surround the incarcerated population in our nation.

Laurie Rosas, criminal justice program chair

Rosas graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Corrections andSociology from the University of Minnesota-Mankato and immediately took a job in Denver, Colorado, at a residential facility for the chronically mentally ill. This eye-opening experience “prepared me for the mentally ill in criminal justice areas,” she says.

After this job, she took a position at the Federal Bureau of Prisons as a corrections officer, then transferred to Tucson, Arizona and later California at a co-ed prison.

That was interesting,” she smiles.

She has served as a corrections officer, intensive supervision agent, program manager and case worker. She has worked for private facilities as well as federal, state and county agencies. Every single experience has proved valuable, she says, because it has provided her with a well-rounded perspective about the criminal justice system.

Criminal justice is a true calling for Rosas.

“I’m from Austin, Minnesota,” she explains, “and that means I’ve worked at Hormel because everybody does. I even became a manager there. But criminal justice kept calling. I had to follow.”

“There was such a connection to the clientele,” she adds. “I got to guide them into wanting a law-abiding life for themselves. It was so fulfilling to me.”

Rosas began teaching while she was pursuing her master’s degree in multi-disciplinary studies, and she found that she liked being on the front end of the system where her experience proved to be beneficial to those just starting out in the profession.

Her favorite part of teaching is helping students obtain internships.

“My proudest moment is when a site contacts me and says, ‘This is the best intern we’ve ever had. They are so professional, well-prepared and knowledgeable.’”

Teaching is not without its challenges, however. Rosas says that nudging students toward career opportunities outside their immediate geography is often difficult.

“I try to tell them that reaching outside your comfort zone is great because you find more opportunities and branch out. Then you can return to the area with experience under your belt.”

Also, students entering the program do not always realize the wide variety of jobs available to them with a criminal justice degree. There is a lot to explore in many places.

“There is probation officer, corrections officer, careers with federal, state, county and city agencies, case worker, victim’s advocate, surveillance, drug testing, electronic monitoring and security officer,” she explains.

Plus, traveling can take you up unexpected roads, Rosas adds.

“I once won $7,700 on Wheel of Fortune,” she says. “I met Pat and Vanna. They were so nice.”

*Some states, including Minnesota, require training in addition to our criminal justice degree program for employment as a peace officer (deputy sheriff, police officer or state patrol officer).  This program does not fulfill Minnesota Peace Officer Standards and Training requirements. Please check your state’s Peace Officer and Standards Training (POST) board requirements to determine eligibility for this profession.

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