May 16, 2012 – Washington D.C., Metropolitan Police Officer Sgt. Carlos Mejia will accomplish a goal he set more than 20 years ago when he graduates Friday with a bachelor’s from Georgetown’s School of Continuing Studies.
The 15-year veteran of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department will receive a degree in individualized studies, a program for students who wish to design their own field of study involving core and human values courses.
After starting his undergraduate career at The George Washington University in 1990, Mejia left after two semesters to serve in the United States Marine Corps during the first Gulf War.
“I left school and enlisted in the Marine Corps with every intention of returning to school,” he says. But when he got back home, Mejia decided to join the police department.
“I have always been a duty- and service-oriented person,” Mejia says. “I never wanted to have a conventional job, working 9 to 5 in an office environment. Police work offered a challenging, ever-changing work environment that allowed me to help people in need and serve the community.”
A Worthwhile Challenge
Eventually, however, the husband and father of three felt a pull to go back to school and finish his undergraduate degree.
“It has been quite a challenge to juggle schoolwork with work and family obligations,” he says.
But he says earning his bachelor’s degree will be one of his greatest accomplishments.
Mejia, who supervises two of the MPD’s community liaison units – the Latino Liaison Unit (LLU) and the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Units (GLLU) – has fluctuating work hours, including daytime, evening and night hours, and would often have to rearrange his schedule or take leave to make it to class on time.
More Than a Degree
“Carlos is a great model of an SCS student because of all the roles he combines – he is a veteran, a family member, a student and a public servant,” says Vincent Kiernan, associate dean of SCS’ Bachelor of Liberal Studies program. “I’ve had him as a student, and he brings wonderful insights from his experience as a police officer into the classroom, and that is what we try to do at SCS, we try to open Georgetown’s doors to the community.”
After receiving his diploma, Mejia, whose favorite class was Latin with assistant professor of classics Charles McNelis, plans to take some time off from school before looking into master’s programs.
“Attending Georgetown University has been more than just getting a bachelor's degree,” Mejia says. “It has been the ability to earn a degree at a prestigious school staffed by a caring staff and professors interested in students' achievements. It has also meant being able to learn in a Jesuit school that embraces education, social justice and service to others.”