Catrina M. Shead is the Deputy Chief for the Dallas Police Department. She is also the Commander of the Northwest Patrol Division where she supervises over 200 officers and staff members for the northwest side of the city. She earned an associate degree in criminal justice from Dallas County Community College District’s El Centro College, a bachelors’ degree in business administration from Northwood University and a master’s degree in professional counseling and psychology from Amberton University. She shares her insights on her educational path.

Why did you pursue a master’s degree?

“I wanted to make a positive impact in my community more than just being a police officer that makes arrests and issues citations. I was already a police officer and noticed that there was a problem with juvenile delinquency. Children needed someone to talk to and many of them wouldn’t talk to their parents. They needed positive role models, and I wanted to be one.”

What would you tell someone who is considering returning to school to earn a master’s degree?

“Pursuing a higher level degree is more than just a piece of paper. It might help you financially but it helps you become a well-rounded person. It shows that you can work on long-term projects. When you are in a graduate degree program, you participate in discussions and are exposed to different ways of thinking. Your personal growth expands, as you become a critical thinker. It also gets you ready for the next level in your professional and personal life.”

What was the biggest reward for earning the master’s degree?

“I was able to understand the difficulties that people will go through. I am able to help citizens, co-workers, friends and family with life issues. It isn’t about giving them the answer; it is about helping them find the right answer for themselves.”

Robin D. Everson is a native Chicagoan who resides in Dallas, Texas. Her appreciation for art, food, wine, people and places has helped her become a well-respected journalist. A life-long lover of education, Robin seeks to learn and enlighten others about culture. You can find her work at Examiner.com