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For CSU Graduate Rachel Lash, a Career in Law Enforcement Starts with Engaged Learning

En route to earning a bachelor’s degree in criminology and sociology from Cleveland State University, Rachel Lash picked up a lot of hands-on training in her chosen field: law enforcement.

“Not many people have this much experience right out of school,” said Lash, seen here with CSU Law Enforcement Officer David Thompson. She graduated magna cum laude in May.

At CSU, Lash served as president of the FBI Student Academy. Every other week during the 2016-2017 academic year, she and two dozen other students met with FBI Community Outreach Specialist Tamara Larkin and some of her colleagues from the Cleveland field office of the FBI, who gave presentations on everything from violent crimes to polygraph testing to evidence collection. Students also toured the local FBI headquarters.

CSU’s FBI Student Academy is the only program of its kind in Ohio, and only the second such program in the United States.

“It really puts CSU on the map,” Lash said. “The FBI is looking for all kinds of majors, too. They want accountants, pharmacists, teachers – you name it. It’s a unique opportunity for so many different students.”

Lash also was among the first members of the CSU Police Auxiliary Officer Program, an internship opportunity launched last year. Students in the program receive college credit while working for the CSU Police Department in various capacities. For Lash, this included performing checks of campus buildings, providing safety escorts for students, faculty and staff and doing ride-alongs on patrol with CSU Police.

“From a young age, I always wanted to be a police officer,” she said. “Being a police auxiliary officer at CSU gave me a taste for what the job is like. I learned a lot.”

Lash is working security full-time at a local hospital and part-time for the Cleveland Indians. She’s also in the running for officer positions with several Northeast Ohio police departments.

The FBI Student Academy and the Police Auxiliary Officer Program were created by CSU Chief of Police Gary Lewis.

“These initiatives are a win-win,” Lewis said. “Our students gain invaluable experience in law enforcement, and their participation helps us keep our entire campus community safe.”