State worker earns Criminal justice degree

Rose Wise of Lihu‘e recently graduated with honors with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

But Wise was not your typical college student.

Wise, 43, is a full-time welfare- fraud investigator with the state Department of Human Services, a part-time Transportation Security Administration (TSA) worker, wife and mother.

“My husband thought I was crazy. My daughter thought I was crazy,” she said of her going back to school.

“But they gave me quiet time and took up some of the chores from me so I could study.” Born and raised on Kaua‘i, Wise graduated from Kapa‘a High School in 1980 and went on to get her associate’s degree in accounting from Kaua‘i Community College.

After working at a bank and then eventually working for the state, in 2004 there was a specific supervisor’s job she had her eyes on. To land that job, she knew she had to have her bachelor’s degree, so she pursued it.

“I wanted a chance at that position, so I had to do it,” she said.

Figuring that she wasn’t too old to pick up her studies, she enrolled in the American InterContinental University Online, and started taking classes. An intense series of classes followed.

“It was 13 classes in about 13 months. In the beginning, it was a struggle just getting back into the groove. But I got the hang of it,” she said.

She took classes on administrative work for criminal justice and victimization. Having all her classes online fit into her busy schedule just fine.

“There’s no way I could actually go and attend classes. With online, it’s not a restricting time,” she said. “After coming home after work, I can work on my time, and I can still attend all the chat sessions. If I had a problem, I could e-mail my teachers, and they’d e-mail right back that same day.” But it wasn’t without hard times. There were occasions when she thought this was too hard, and she wanted to stop.

“There was a time when I thought it was too much, but I just kept thinking about my future, and what I wanted to do for myself. In order to get this, I had to do it,” she said.

This past Saturday, she did. She graduated with a 3.9 grade-point average. The commencement ceremony was even online.

“We had to log on and watch the ceremony. Like a crazy person, I sat through the whole thing,” she said.

She is thankful for the support she received from her husband Bernard Wise, her daughter Chelsea Salud, and her friends, but hasn’t had the time to celebrate her achievement yet.

“My husband and I are thinking of going away for vacation for a little bit, but we’ll see,” she said.

She said she encourages everyone to go back to school if they want to.

“Anybody could do it. It doesn’t matter what your age is,” she said.

She said that, after taking a short break, she might even get her master’s degree.


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