A class at the University of Minnesota brought together two student-athletes, sparking an unlikely passion and leading to the creation of a new student-led organization.
The group, called Future Law Enforcement Leaders of America, was created in March and aims to establish connections between law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal levels with students at the University.
Founders Campbell Fisher and Taylor Chell discovered their interest in law enforcement after enrolling in a public affairs class led by Humphrey School teaching specialist Dennis Donovan. Their friendship developed quickly after realizing they shared a passion for studying the criminal justice system and the pathways to prison.
After a couple meetings at coffee shops, the two founded the club.
“That got us talking, and we did a one-on-one together, started becoming friends and talking about what we are passionate about,” Chell said. “This is not only a way for us to make connections, but to learn from federal agencies.”
The organization gives students an opportunity for face-to-face interaction by holding meetings where various law enforcement professionals come and speak. Members then use these connections to gain an insight into a career in law enforcement and learn what various jobs in the field entail.
Along with leading the club, Fisher and Chell are both Division I athletes at the University. Chell, a softball player, and Fisher, a golfer, have managed their busy schedules to provide an opportunity for students interested in a career in law enforcement.
The athletic department has played a large role in the club's success. Anissa Lightner, director of career services and relations for Student-Athlete Development at the University, has helped organize meeting spaces, schedule speakers and recruit students to the club.
“It provides opportunities for networking, and not only reaching their peers, but professionals in their community as well," Lightner said. "[The group] is going to impact them with opportunities from job shadowing, volunteer efforts, internships and then on to full-time employment."
Since the beginning of March, the club has hosted multiple speakers, including the head recruiter for the Minnesota State Patrol and a United States Border officer.
Both Fisher and Chell are in their third year at the University, and have hopes to keep the organization alive. They want to pass on the group to new students after graduation, but the future of the club is still up in the air.
The group started with just five students, but has been growing ever since. The organization has piqued the interest of 18 students in the span of two months— a much larger turnout than the founders expected.
Fisher said he is not concerned about the number of people joining the group so far.
"I would rather have a smaller group that are really interested,” Fisher said. “If people know they want a career in law enforcement and don’t really know where to go, hopefully the people in my club will end up doing great things."