Lander University alumnus Johnathan McAllister knew from an early age that he wanted to go into law enforcement after watching those he admired most lead successful careers in the field.
“Law enforcement gave them the opportunity to make a difference in a variety of ways,” he said, “not just a single approach.”
McAllister earned a sociology degree from Lander in 2006, and now serves the Conway, South Carolina, Police Department as a patrol lieutenant. Off duty, though, McAllister has returned to Lander—this time working towards a Master of Science in Emergency Management online through the University’s College of Graduate and Online Studies.
Earning a master’s has been on his to-do list for some time. McAllister loves his career, his co-workers and the City of Conway’s residents, and sees continuing his education as an investment not only in himself, but also an investment in those he serves. He hopes to one day hold a post as chief-of-police, and chose to continue his education in order to take the next step towards that career goal.
When it came to picking a program for graduate school, however, McAllister said he “did not want to take classes at just any university.” He was searching for a program that would enhance his emergency preparedness on the job while being offered in an affordable online format that would fit his schedule. It was at the South Carolina Training Officers Conference that McAllister first learned of the emergency management program offered by his alma mater.
“I was 100 percent on board,” he said.
As a law enforcement officer, McAllister claims one of the leading benefits of Lander’s graduate programs is the public employee discount offered by the College of Graduate and Online Studies, providing a pathway to higher education to those who make communities safer. In his own department, he is an advocate among his colleagues for professional development and continuing education.
“I have recommended this program to several of my co-workers,” he said, “and hope they take advantage of the opportunity.”
Graduate school wasn’t just about the next career move for McAllister, but about putting the principles he’s learning in Lander’s program to use while on the job. His current role with the Conway Police Department provides him with regular opportunities to do just that. When South Carolina was hit with historic flooding caused by hurricanes Matthew and Joaquin in 2015, McAllister was tapped to lead the city’s emergency operation center—a position he still holds today. Those experiences working inside the field of emergency management have helped him contribute to various classroom scenarios and discussions, and those lessons “in the classroom” have equipped McAllister with the right tools to respond to the next natural disaster.
McAllister even recently parlayed his experience and advanced education into an acceptance into the FBI National Academy. And because of the convenient online format of his master’s program at Lander, he was able to participate in this training program without having to put his studies on hold.
“My leadership skills, as well as my operational skills, have evolved thanks to Lander University,” McAllister said.
This story is featured in the Spring 2023 edition of Lander Magazine. Read more at www.lander.edu/magazine.