Zack Patterson wanted instructors who had been officers themselves, who would relate to him those real-world experiences that would prepare him for a challenging career as a police officer.
He wanted a college nearby, and one that wouldn’t put him thousands of dollars into debt for an education.
He also wanted to build on the college courses he took in high school to help him get into his career even quicker.
What Zack Patterson wanted, Gateway Technical College delivered.
“My dream was to become a police officer,” says Zack. “Going to Gateway was financially sound for me. It was more realistic than to go $60,000 in debt for a bachelor’s degree, especially when I realized technical colleges had more hands-on training. It’s more practical than listening to a professor who had never been an officer before.
“As I took my classes, I had the peace of mind knowing I would be able to apply what I learned to my career immediately. That’s what I am able to do.”
Zack is now a police officer at an area municipality.
Began taking classes in high school
Zack began taking Gateway courses while living in Pleasant Prairie and attending Tremper High School. He viewed the effort as a sound financial decision and says taking those courses in high school saved him tuition costs, helped him graduate early – and gave him the flexibility in his final semester to take on a third-shift job as a security guard.
“Being able to take those classes in high school helped at the end. I was able to take fewer classes that last semester, got my sleep and was able to work as a security guard.”
In addition to being an affordable option, closer to home and receiving training from instructors who already worked – and continue to work – in the field, Zack says equipment and facilities provided the framework to gain valuable skills. One was Sim City, a large, open area on the Kenosha Campus that has mini business fronts and street for students to practice various criminal justice and law enforcement tactics.
“Our instructors would take us to Sim City, where we would perform simulated situations right there in class. It was an example of the hands-on training. The instructors were practical – rather than only reading it in a book, they worked to make sure you would apply what you read and learned. You were doing it for real.”
Internships hone skills
Internships further helped Zack hone his skills. Even the general studies courses Zack took will help him as an officer.
“The electives you take for Criminal Justice will help – they will make you a better person and police officer. For example, I can apply my speech courses every day on my job, composition courses to file reports.”
Zack became eligible for Gateway’s Law Enforcement Academy after graduating with his associate degree in Criminal Justice in 2013. He completed his academy work in Spring 2014.