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For Criminal Justice Month, Daymar College is honoring graduates of our Criminal Justice program who are making a difference every day in their communities. Since the US Congress established it in 2009, the purpose of National Criminal Justice Month has been “to promote societal awareness regarding the causes and consequences of crime, as well as strategies for preventing and responding to crime”. Those who pursue careers in criminal justice contribute to crime prevention every day, and we would like to use the month of March to thank them for their commitment.
For BJ Ferguson, being a police officer may be an occupation, but it doesn’t feel like a job. Every day when he places his badge over his heart and patrols the community he has sworn to protect, it isn’t work. It’s a career, a lifelong dream finally realized through years of dedication.
“Even as a small child, I always had a dream to become a police officer. Through studies and hard work, I was able to make that dream a reality,” Officer Ferguson said.
He wanted to make a difference and serve the community of Owensboro where he was born and raised, but life just kept getting in the way. A high school graduate, Officer Ferguson was working a full-time job and just trying to pay the bills and support his family.
“At the same time I was still trying to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up.”
Determined to make a difference in people’s lives, he decided that law enforcement was the right path to take. Next came a citizen academy course at the Owensboro Police Department and a strategic plan to achieve his goal of becoming a police officer. He knew that Daymar College offered a degree in criminal justice and, after speaking with staff at the Owensboro campus, started classes.
As a working father, traditional college was “not an option” and Daymar College’s part-time schedule was perfect. Attending only one weekly class let him work around the 65 hours per week he was putting in as a full-time supervisor. He learned the history of policing and the terms used in the field, as well as the US Constitution and the rights of citizens. He enjoyed the real-world experience his instructors — lawyers, police officers, and court employees — brought to the classroom. Their first-hand knowledge of textbook concepts brought excitement to the class, he said. He appreciated the small classes and the one-on-one time he got with instructors when he needed additional explanations.
“Daymar gave me the stepping stones needed to achieve my dreams, while the instructors helped me build the path I needed to do so.”
After graduating with a Criminal Justice Degree Program in the summer of 2009, Officer Ferguson worked a few security jobs to gain experience in the criminal justice field. He had a minor diversion when, due to salary reasons, he returned to the supervisory job he had as a Daymar College Owensboro campus student. For three years, he applied for police officer jobs at various departments in the region during their annual or semi-annual open hiring periods. The scarcity of jobs available in these windows and the talent of candidates made consideration for a position difficult to earn. But he persisted, finally landing a job as an officer with the Owensboro Police Department at the end of 2012.
And the wait was worth it, knowing that he has “a career that my daughter can look at her father and be proud of.”
As he prepared for his first shift after graduating from the police academy, he felt his dreams realized.
“So many emotions all rolled into one moment. Knowing that the goal I started so many years prior had finally been reached. Placing the badge over my heart walking out the door to the first time to serve and protect the community I call home was a moment I will never forget.”
Officer Ferguson is confident that he made the right choice for himself and his family by going back to school and earning a degree in Criminal Justice. He may be serving his community, but it doesn’t feel like service.
“I continue to come to work everyday and it doesn’t feel like a job. I love this department and this city, so to enjoy and have fun in the career I have chosen is a blessing.”