It’s no doubt that Criminal Justice Sciences alum Jennifer Ahrens ’85 has a passion for helping others.

Originally from Woodstock, Illinois, Ahrens chose Illinois State because of its centralized location, relatively close to her hometown. While she initially enrolled as a business administration major, she found herself reconsidering her academic and professional career paths after taking an introductory level criminal justice course.

Ahrens enjoyed the course enough to completely change majors, eventually graduating from Illinois State with a degree in criminal justice.

She says her time at Illinois State prepared her well for life after graduation.

In her last semester on campus, she held a criminal justice internship that prepared her for her upcoming career. She entered the workforce post-graduation and served as a police officer for 30 years, working with the Elgin Police Department. During this time, she also earned a master’s degree in law enforcement and justice administration from Western Illinois University.

Eventually, Ahrens retired—but she had not forgotten her passion and wasn’t serving her community quite yet. She worked to earn her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling from National Louis University, which led her to her most recent role.

She now works as a licensed professional counselor, concentrating on helping first responders navigate challenges of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, trauma, and anger management.

Her therapy strategies are focused on finding a solution that fits each individual client’s challenges, and she focuses on forming trusting and collaborative relationships with her clients.

“Working as a police officer was a very fulfilling career,” she said. “I had the opportunity to do all kinds of work with different groups of people. My second career has been just as rewarding. I will always feel fulfilled helping people in times of crisis, whether they are a first responder or any regular person.”

Want to learn more about a major in the Criminal Justice Sciences department at Illinois State? Check out their website for more information.