Criminal Justice Student Seizes Co-Curricular Opportunities

Criminal Justice Student Seizes Co-Curricular Opportunities

Tirzah Terry
Tirzah Terry

LINCOLN UNIVERSITY, Pa. — Since a young age, Tirzah Terry has been seeking and discovering answers for herself. Now, as a graduate of the Class of 2020, she looks to help others discover answers as a law enforcement officer.

Tirzah has a unique and compelling story. She was taken into the foster care system and adopted at age 2 as the youngest into a family of one mother and 22 children.

“Growing up, I was curious about who my biological family was, especially my biological mom. When I enrolled in high school, my adopted mom accidentally gave the wrong birth certificate that had my biological mom’s name on it. That was the first time I saw her name!

I searched for my biological mom and found a photo of her. I knew it was her; she looked so familiar.”

Terry's search revealed that her mom had gone missing after Terry’s adoption.

Terry recalls, “I was confused, but became intrigued in her missing person case. I called police departments and signed up for ancestry registry websites. Unfortunately, my biological mom was never found, but this search made me fall in love with filling in the puzzle pieces and detective work.”

“I recognized the importance of setting a standard for myself and my family. Keeping my goals and aspirations at the forefront kept me motivated. One of my mentors told me, ‘hey you need to get an education,’ I now know that is not the only way to pull yourself out of generational poverty but it’s what has kept me going. Education became a stepping stone to do what I wanted and make money doing it.”

Terry, a 2016 graduate from J. P. McCaskey High School in Lancaster, is the first child in her family to attend and graduate college, demonstrating that students from all backgrounds can achieve at high levels.

“Ms. Terry’s story is powerful in that it shows the unique role that a Lincoln University education can play in helping students overcome obstacles and set a clearer pathway toward success,” said Dr. Patricia A. Joseph, dean of the faculty. “She has demonstrated that her Lincoln experience has gone far beyond mastering facts and figures. Rather, she has acquired knowledge and intellectual skills toward leading change in varied communities and beyond.”

Terry sought co-curricular programs to build on what she was learning in the classroom. Because of her criminal justice major and political science minor, Lincoln University’s Public Safety recruited to analyze and update its policy and procedure manual and to serve as a PowerDMS administrator, which is a data software entry program for police agencies.

In summer 2018, Terry earned acceptance into Pusan National University’s study abroad program and traveled to Busan, South Korea, to learn about Korean linguistics and culture.

One year later, the National Park Service visited Lincoln University and discussed internship opportunities with Terry. After physical tests and interviews, she was offered a paid internship with the National Park Service and Temple University. Terry accepted and was sent on a three-month detail to a Coast Guard Training Base in Virginia and interned as a Park Ranger at a National Park in the area.

“I was extremely busy before my twentieth birthday, yes, I accomplished all these things under 20 years of age!”

Terry is the first Lincoln student to complete the National Park Service hiring process to be a U.S. Park Ranger. She is the only person of African descent to be a part of the National Park Service recruiting class 2020 (ProRanger Program, Cohort 7).

Upon return from Virginia, Terry began to serve as a liaison between Temple University and Lincoln University to help recruit Lincoln underclassmen to work with the Department of the Interior.

“Tirzah is a mentor to many criminal justice students and has an inspiring incredible story to share. She has shown incredible resiliency despite a difficult past and has done a great service to the University” said Dr. Zoran Milovanovich, a criminal justice professor who mentors Terry.

Terry became a member of the National Organization of Black Law Executives (NOBLE) in 2017 and served as the Greater Delaware chapter Secretary in 2018. She was inducted into the National Honors Society of Leadership and Success in 2017 and remains an active member.

Terry leaves Lincoln University with the knowledge, attitude, and competency needed to be competitive in a global economy and ready to continue making a positive impact on her family and community.

This August, Tirzah will begin training at the Federal Park Ranger Academy.

--Terrance J. Young, M.Div.