Richard Schak is the program director of criminal justice at National Louis University. Schak earned a collection of credit hours from institutions all over the area while a police cadet and in the Chicago Police Academy. When Schak finally became serious about higher education, he went to a local university and gathered all his transfer credit, added some life experience credit and received two degrees after a lot of coursework. Schak holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice.

(Photo Courtesy of Richard Schak)

(Photo Courtesy of Richard Schak)

Schak started with the Chicago Police Department and was hired as a police officer at 20 years old.  He was then promoted to detective and worked homicide for many years as an investigator and supervisor of many investigations.  Later, he was assigned as a patrol sergeant where he was shot in the line of duty in 1999, but was wearing a Kevlar vest which allowed him to continue.  During his later years in the police department, he was an adjunct professor in a local graduate school. After retirement, Schak was the director of a private investigations company and also did some police training in Albania.

Schak then went into full-time education as a criminal justice program director at a for-profit and moved to the same position at another. About three and a half years ago, Schak came to National Louis University as the first Chair of the new criminal justice program.

What are the scope and responsibilities of your current role?

“As the chair or director of the program I am responsible for the hiring of adjunct professors, scheduling and staffing classes and outreach and recruitment of new students.”

What is your favorite part of your daily duties?

“The very best part of this position is the interactions with the students. Our student group ranges from 18 years olds to adult learners looking to change careers. We have current practitioners in the program in addition to future practitioners. We take an experiential approach to learning with trips to various locations in the criminal justice system, police, correctional and medical examiner facilities and a working fingerprint identification system and firearms simulator. Everyone gets enjoyment out of the program: staff, students and professor!”

Do you feel your education prepared you for your current role?

“I think my education was multi-faceted, some military, policing and university learning.  This combination of experience, coupled with my prior higher education experience made me a nice fit for this assignment. In addition, the support group here at NLU works not only for the students but amongst the faculty and staff as well.”

Do you have any advice for people who desire to pursue a similar career?

“I suggest that people set their goals as high as possible and keep at it. Learn from all of your peers and look at every opportunity as a learning experience. Adults should think of everyday life as training. Never turn down education because no one can never predict where it will lead you.”

Michelle Guilbeau is a writer, reviewer, teacher and business owner. She also has experience in school administration, literacy coaching and is proud founder of CraftKitsForKids.com and MichelleGuilbeau.com Michelle enjoys sharing her knowledge of cities, food, travel, education and parenting issues with her readers. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.