The Ottumwa Courier

Education

April 17, 2014

Pursuing opportunities

OTTUMWA — Joe Tafta follows the rules. The Simpson College junior hopes to be a U.S. marshal one day, so he’s careful about what he says and does.

But not always.

On the afternoon of April 1, Tafta says, he nearly got booted out of Dunn Library for making too much noise.

The reason: Tafta had received an email informing him that he had been accepted as an intern this summer in the Miami-Dade Police Department.

Two thousand young people applied. Tafta was one of only eight who were accepted into the prestigious internship program.

“I yelled,” he says, “I was pretty excited. I almost got kicked out of the library, but it was definitely worth it.”

In Tafta, the Miami-Dade Police Department will be getting a 6-foot-3, 250-pound young man from Ottumwa who has set his sights on law enforcement since he was a boy.

That’s one of the reasons he was drawn to Simpson, where he is a double major in criminal justice and business management.

“It’s one of the better colleges in Iowa for criminal justice,” he says. “I decided to come to college for that reason alone.”

Tafta says he has not been disappointed. Specifically, he credits his advisor, Fred Jones, professor of sociology and criminal justice; Constance Kostelac, assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice; and Samantha O’Hara, also an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice.

“Working with Joe has been a rewarding experience,” Jones says. “Joe is one of those students whose efforts to prepare himself for a criminal justice career go far beyond what is expected. Joe has actively pursued opportunities that will draw a distinction between himself and others entering his chosen field.”

Tafta says his Simpson professors helped show him what was possible as far as law enforcement careers, he says.

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