Following Faith and Career Goals at ONU

Jessica Brown, criminal justice and sociology major
Laura Warfel headshot

LW Warfel

January 12, 2024 Academics

Jessica Brown

Law enforcement with a Christian purpose is what Jessica Brown found when she entered the Criminal Justice program at Olivet Nazarene University. Now a senior with a double major in criminal justice and sociology, she has already set her goals for the career path she wants to follow.

Since she was very young, Jessica has had the desire to work in law enforcement. “My grandfather was a U.S. Marshall,” she says. “Hearing stories from him helped create my interest to enter the U.S. Secret Service. That’s my goal.”

For Jessica, that career journey began when she entered ONU. “ONU’s emphasis on Christian faith in all the fields my friends and I are going into is very important to me,” she says. “I like the emphasis on Christian values, and I realized I want to be part of that.”

Personal and professional growth steps
In addition to her ONU coursework, Jessica has enjoyed the many personal and professional growth opportunities presented to her as a criminal justice major. She has visited the Kankakee County detention facilities several times, taken the role of prosecutor in a mock trial in the Kankakee County Courthouse before a sitting judge, and went on a ride-along with a local police officer. Her visits to Washington, DC, with classmates further solidified her desire to live and work there in the future.

“I tend to be very shy,” Jessica says. “Doing these new experiences with the support of my friends and professors helps get me out of my comfort zone. They walk with me as I explore what I want to do.”

She also appreciates the guest speakers from various fields of criminal justice who speak in her classes. Outside the classroom, she volunteers with Beyond Bars, a ONU prison outreach club.

“I have had the privilege of working with Jessica over the last four years and seeing her growth both academically and spiritually,” says Dr. Shelly Stroud ’90, associate professor and Criminal Justice field director. “One of the first discussions we had was her goal to become a federal agent. I explained to her that becoming a federal agent requires more than just a desire. It calls for determination, dedication and a strong commitment to service in the community. Jessica’s academic achievements and her involvement in the community showcase her proactive approach in preparing for a career devoted to serving both God and humanity.”

Charting the course for success
In response to Jessica’s career goals, her professors have connected her with ONU alumni who serve in federal law enforcement, including a FBI agent and a U.S. Secret Service agent. They have been helpful as she plans her next career steps and how to apply for a federal job.

Before graduating from ONU in May 2024, Jessica will complete an internship with the Kankakee Police Department. She will be working alongside officers in every division with an emphasis on patrol and investigations specifically. During this time, she will also be assigned to work with a ONU alumna, Melvina Calvin-Edwards ’21 EdD, who is a detective on staff there.

“Jessica’s quiet and observant nature reflects the sentiments expressed in Isaiah 30:15, ‘In quietness and trust is your strength,’” Dr. Stroud says. “Her leadership among her peers is an example among the Criminal Justice majors and highlights her ability to inspire others through her thoughtful and considered actions. She will set the example for our future Women in Law Enforcement (WILE) and possibly Women in Federal Law Enforcement (WIFLE).”

Jessica knows that she will have to work her way up to a federal law enforcement position. Her first steps will be to graduate from a police academy and work in the Chicago Police Department or another department in Illinois. “Then I will begin the application process for the U.S. Secret Service,” Jessica says. “Eventually, I want to be a uniformed officer like those we see guarding the buildings and officials in Washington, DC.”

For more information about the Department of Social Work & Criminal Justice, contact the Office of Admissions at or 800-648-1463.

Laura Warfel headshot

LW Warfel

Laura Wasson Warfel is a story gatherer, writer, editor, and follower of Jesus Christ. A good listener, she distills details into meaningful communications. Her greatest joy is to bring others along with her on her faith journey. In 2015, she launched More Than A Widow, a ministry to help widows live beyond the label and find their more.

Student on main campus wearing pink sweater and holding water bottle.

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