By: Shannon Smith
Professor Kevin Waters, a new faculty member in the Criminal Justice Department, talks about how he came to work at Northern Michigan University and discusses the rewarding path he has taken before he came to Marquette.
After growing up in the suburbs of Oklahoma City, Kevin remained there to attend the University of Oklahoma and received his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 1984. While attending college, he realized that psychology wasn’t the right career for him and began to take many law enforcement courses as well.
Upon graduation, Kevin decided to pursue his interest in the criminal justice field and attended Florida State University to obtain his master’s degree in criminology in 1988. He then entered the field of criminal justice as a Special Agent for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and went back to Oklahoma City to work. Kevin was involved in the Oklahoma City bombing and received the Administrator’s Award for his actions after the disaster and mentions that seeing his co-workers survive the tragedy was the “good in the midst of really bad.”
During his time in the DEA, Kevin’s responsibility as a Special Agent dealt primarily with enforcing federal drug laws, which included the tasks of making arrests, carrying out search warrants, gathering surveillance intelligence, and occasionally going undercover. Two people, his boss, Don Webb, and his senior partner, Dave Schickedanz, were especially important to Kevin during his time with the DEA, becoming almost like family while working with them. He is currently writing a book about his experience as a DEA Special Agent and will continue to work on it throughout the next few years.
After serving with the DEA, Kevin returned to Florida State University in 2003 in order to obtain his Ph.D. in Criminology. While working towards his degree, he took on a graduate student teaching position in order to help guide his research; however, he soon learned by the third class of his first semester teaching that becoming a professor was the career path that was right for him.
Nearing the completion of his Ph.D. in 2011, Kevin began searching for a position in teaching, wanting perhaps to “go somewhere near the Canadian border,” the polar opposite of where he was previously. He then found NMU and began his career in the CJ department in fall 2011, and he has since come to love Marquette, noticing that people up here are as friendly and genuine as their Southern counterparts he knew in Florida.
A few tips that Kevin mentions in order for students to do well in his classes would be “come to class,” “take good notes,” and “be engaged and open minded” so that they will learn to think critically. Also, he mentions that students should have a desire to learn how to write better, something that one will absolutely need to have in any future career. When asked what he would like people to remember most about him as a teacher, Kevin hopes they will say, “I was fair and that I challenged them.”
Apart from his job in the Criminal Justice Department, Kevin likes movies, eating out on occasion, and travelling with his children. He particularly enjoys watching sporting events, especially football, and says that the first hockey game he saw was at NMU this past year. He also mentions that his relationship with God is important to him, and when keeping that a priority, other aspects of his life seem to fall in place.
Kevin has one son, Houston (25), two daughters, Danielle (23) and Sam (15), and one granddaughter, Maddison (3). He says that raising them is one of the greatest successes he has achieved in his life.
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