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Zachary Zuk – Change, Growth and Perseverance in the Criminal Justice Professional Degree Program

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Zac Zuk is a member of Olivet College’s Criminal Justice Professional (CJP) degree program and is expected to graduate in May 2023. His path into the criminal justice field was unexpected. Growing up, he planned to play golf at a university and pursue golf management, but after an internship in the field, he decided that was not the career path he wanted to pursue. 

A complete change of direction took him down a new path to the police academy, and from 2007 to 2020, he worked in law enforcement. During his career, Zac’s roles included field training officer; defensive tactics and use of force instructor with the Kalamazoo Valley Community College Police Academy; and, member of the Metro SWAT Team, sergeant and assistant commander. He said, “While on the team, I conducted over 400 operational missions to include high-risk search warrants and high-risk vehicle takedowns.” 

Zac had the opportunity again in 2021 to change his course when he was offered a position in the private sector. After much thought, he decided to retire from law enforcement but continue to pursue his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He originally began the CJP program at the recommendation of his police chief.  “I am now the general manager and lead instructor in a gun manufacturing and training company. Overall, the change has been good for the family life,” he said.  

After changing his career, Zac still felt passionate about finishing his degree. “I wanted to continue my education and finish what I started with Olivet College,” he said. “I enrolled in the program because of Olivet’s vast benefits for full-time working professionals. Olivet has been great to work with. The program is truly built around the working person. It is fluid and can change to help ensure a solid education while still providing the time to balance work and education.”  

Whether working in law enforcement or the private sector, Zac admitted that pursuing his degree can be challenging. He said, “Life is all about prioritizing and what you can do when you can do it. You have to decide to set time aside to get all your tasks done in a certain time frame. Being well organized and comfortable with being uncomfortable has helped me manage everything.” 

To working professionals thinking about returning to college, Zac says, “I would recommend it, but with a fair warning, it can be difficult. Nothing worth doing is ever easy, nor should it be. So, I would advise staying the course and keeping at it.”  

Zac may no longer serve on the police force, but the knowledge and leadership skills gained through the CJP program will last a lifetime and serve him well in any career path he chooses.  

Learn more about Olivet College and the Criminal Justice Adult Professional program by contacting Mike Lazusky, director of adult professional and graduate admissions at 269-749-6612 or mlazusky@olivetcollege.edu. 

This feature was written by Savannah Baker, a senior studying English and business. The former editor of Olivet’s literary journal, Garfield Lake Review, Savannah now pursues her interest in writing and editing as a marketing intern with Olivet College.  

 

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