Aerial view of the Dowagiac campus

SMC first two-year school with criminal justice honor society

04/29/2019 - 8am
Don Ricker, Joe Seidler, Aydin Goens, Lexi Chorba, Cali Laughlin, Kara Safranek

After winning its fifth straight SkillsUSA state title over spring break, Southwestern Michigan College’s criminal justice program notched another notable achievement this month, becoming the first Michigan community college with an American Criminal Justice Association Lambda Alpha Epsilon chapter.

Sigma Mu Chi (SMC) joins Michigan State University and Ferris State University with chapters of the organization founded in 1937 and headquartered in Sacramento, Calif. CJ majors can join the criminology and criminal justice organization to promote professional, academic and public awareness of criminal justice issues.

The CJ society, which inducted its first members April 22 in a ceremony at the Foster W. Daugherty Building on the Dowagiac campus, is the college’s fifth honor avenue. The chapter joins Alpha Beta Gamma, the international community college business honor society; Sigma Psi chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for community colleges; Psi Beta, the national community college psychology honor society; and SMC’s homegrown Honors Program.

Program Director Don Ricker installed candidates Joseph Seidler of St. Joseph, Aydin Goens of Niles, Lexi Chorba of Dowagiac, Cali Laughlin of Berrien Springs and Kara Safranek of Watervliet.

Seidler, Criminal Justice gold medalist on SMC’s 2017 state champion team, transitioned to Ferris State University.

“I will be graduating with a bachelor’s in criminal justice at the end of this semester, but I will not receive my diploma until after the summer. I need to complete my internships, then I will have met all the requirements,” Seidler said. “My internship will be with St. Joseph Department of Public Safety and the Benton Township Police Department. My goals have not changed. I still have great interest in becoming a detective, joining a SWAT team and working for the U.S. Marshals Service.”

Chorba competed on the gold medal-winning Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) team April 5-7 in Grand Rapids with Taylor Harger and Ashley Hoadley. One student photographs the scene, another sketches the scene and a third collects, tags and bags evidence. Collectively, they compile a report.

“I’ll probably stay here for the Ferris program for my bachelor’s degree,” Chorba said.

The Criminal Justice team swept its scenario contest with Anthony Antao winning gold; Aydin Goens, silver; and David Curl, bronze.

“We did a traffic stop, a misdemeanor arrest, a victim/witness interview and a 911 hang-up call. We walked into a scenario room and there was a woman lying on the ground, unconscious. It turned out she was a diabetic going through insulin withdrawal,” Goens, CJ Club president, said.

Though 18, he graduates with honors and his associate degree May 4, thanks to dual enrollment. He’ll also continue on to his Ferris State bachelor’s degree. “I know I want to be a police officer,” Goens said. “I know I want to do SWAT for a few years, then go into something federal.”

Safranek wants to continue to a bachelor’s degree, double major for her master’s degree in psychology and become a forensic psychologist. Laughlin aspires to be a probation officer.