Matthew Lawhead ’00 always knew that he wanted to be a police officer and DelVal was the perfect fit.
“I couldn’t believe how it felt like home the first time I was there,” he said. “I loved the campus, the small class size and the teachers.”
Lawhead credits his experience as a resident advisor for helping to prepare him in his career. “A residence hall is very similar to a city, as you have a large group of different people living and working together,” he said. “An RA’s role is similar to that of a police officer in that you have to be part peacekeeper, counselor, mediator, problem solver, authoritarian, big brother and friend.”
As a criminal justice major Lawhead was privy to professors, some police officers, with real life experience to teach from.
“I can remember some classes as small as 8-12 students, which made for a very efficient learning environment,” he said. “To me, it was much easier learning about rules of criminal procedure or case law from someone who had handled a case or used a method we learned about.”
Lawhead is currently a police officer with the Richland Township Police Department. He also serves as a field training officer, taser instructor, First Aid/CPR instructor and handles community activities, safety presentations and children’s events.
“My favorite part of my job is that I am also assigned to the Central Bucks Special Response Team (SWAT) as a negotiator,” he said. “There is no doubt in my mind that my time as an RA helped me prepare for this!”
Lawhead had some great advice for incoming students.
“DelVal is what you make of it,” he said. “It has the potential to be the best thing to ever happen to you and will provide experiences you will never get anywhere else.”
He urges students to take studies seriously, but to make time for the other offerings of the school, outside the classroom.
“Make the best of your time (at DelVal), it goes by way too fast,” said Lawhead. “One day you will wake up and realize that you graduated 15 years ago when the current freshmen were 3 years old.”
“I often joke that I would give up the last 10 years of my life for one more semester at DelVal,” he said. “I loved everything about life at DelVal.”