From understanding how the criminal justice system works to how a criminal offender thinks, Kerry Nelson was prepared for work in the criminal justice field through an undergraduate minor in criminology and a Master’s of Science in Administrative Studies, Criminal Justice Option.
Nelson is a district administrator for Missouri Probation and Parole. He manages probation and parole officers who supervise offenders, including those placed on probation by the courts and parole by the prisons. Nelson enjoys the people aspect of his work.
“I like having a sense of responsibility in facilities and administration,” said Nelson. “Also, my job provides flexibility in time.”
According to Nelson, his bachelor’s degree prepared him to systematically understand how the criminal justice field operates from the core up to the bureaucracy. Theories on crime and social theories enabled him to better understand and work with people.
However, it was his master’s degree that provided him the skills necessary for serving as an administrator. By understanding the importance of research, Nelson can stay up-to-date on current issues and programs.
Nelson also provides internship and practicum opportunities for Missouri State students. As an employer, Nelson said that it is the experience students gain outside of the classroom that puts them in a better position to be hired.
“What you learn in the lecture hall is a laboratory, but it’s hard to predict with all the social influences—family, substance abuse, and more—in the real world,” said Nelson.
In addition to strengthening the student’s skills, an internship shows potential employers his or her work style and demonstrates the student’s commitment to the criminal justice field. Nelson currently brings his professional expertise and knowledge to the classroom as a professor, teaching a corrections class.
“I always think of the student’s perspective and that is something I always try to keep in mind,” said Nelson.