Student Spotlight: Zack & Kinzey

Graceland criminal justice students Zacary Stetzel ’18 and Kinzey Nicklaus ’19

Zacary Stetzel ’18 from Panora, Iowa, came to Graceland for a college visit during homecoming.

Jerry Hampton ‘52 found out Zac was interested in criminal justice, so he introduced Zac to Kansas City Police Department Deputy Chief Bob Kuehl who was attending homecoming with his wife, Bobbie Hampton ’78 Kuehl. Kuehl offered to introduce Zac to the KCPD, and he was able to do a few “ride alongs,” where he really got the feel of what a day in the life of a police officer is like. Those experiences shaped his decision to major in criminal justice and set him on course to be one of the two students chosen to participate in the new internship program.

“Dr. Bradley Brewster, Assistant Professor of Sociology, told me about the internship, and I did the background check and paperwork for it. It was two weeks jam-packed full, and I learned a lot. It was a blast. Because of the previous ride alongs, I knew the basic rules, so the police officers were able to share with me their feelings and hopes of things they’d like to change. I actually stayed at Deputy Chief Kuehl’s house, so it never shut off. I saw what affects it has on the family environment.”

The internship gave Zac opportunity to see the wide array of specialty areas within the KCPD and the criminal justice system. “The sociology part of it really came into context — like the culture there and the demographics of people, and how that affects community policing,” explained Zac. “There’s a lot of things I hadn’t thought about, even during the ride alongs, like the politics behind policing and the bureaucracy and things like that. It made me aware of other positions; not just being a patrol cop or a detective — they have SWAT, K-9, helicopter, bomb and arson … We got to see a lot of different places there, and we got to talk to them about their jobs.”

“I’ve always wanted to help people, whether it was a firefighter or police officer, or counselor or whatever, and when I came here and learned about the criminal justice program, I jumped on it. I’m glad I’m getting minors in psychology and sociology — that will round out my education for any other related careers.”

Zac is an executive board member of Graceland’s Student Athletic Advisory Committee. He is on a subcommittee focused on connecting Graceland athletes with Lamoni schools. One of their new initiatives is the School Bus Walk program. It is a mentoring and safety program where student-athletes meet with elementary students two days a week and walk with them to school.

With a major in criminal justice and minors in psychology and sociology, Zac plans to graduate in just three years with a solid base. His internship experience moved him forward, exposed him to new experiences and helped him understand the field of criminal justice in a way the classroom alone could never do.

Kinzey Nicklaus ’19 from Griswold, Iowa, is good friends with Camryn Kuehl ’19, and Cameron told Kinzey about the KCPD internship possibility.

Kinzey contacted Dr. Brewster for more information and began the application process. The internship was during May, was for two semester credits and gave her two weeks of intensive exposure to the KCPD and its possibilities for her career.

“I loved the internship! We were the pilot program, and I would say that two weeks wasn’t long enough. It was so concentrated — all summer would have been better!” said Kinzey. “We did something different every single day. The schedule was packed — one night we were supposed to be done at 5, but we didn’t get done until around 11. I really liked learning about the many different departments and units. I learned a lot in those two weeks.”

Kinzey is on track to graduate with a double major in criminal justice and human services. She got a head start and came to Graceland with 15 college credits she earned while in high school.

Police work as an option for a caring career was an idea instilled in Kinzey when she was young. “I wanted to be a cop when I was little. When I was about six years old, my dad knew an Iowa State Patrolman, and he gave me a ride around the block in his police car. I got a T-shirt and was obsessed with being a cop,” explained Kinzey.

“As I got into high school I wanted to be a counselor, but I wanted to still be in the criminal justice area. I volunteered with the Salvation Army and worked with an after-school program in a rough neighborhood in Waterloo that provided food from the food pantry. All these underprivileged kids were able to go to fun places and get food, and it was well organized.” These experiences have instilled a purpose for Kinzey and have directed her decisions for higher education.

“I want to be in a juvenile setting, where I can really make a difference in their lives. I want to be that person who helps them turn their life around. I know I can’t affect all of them, but even if I can help one or two get on a better path … I hope to one day become a juvenile probation officer.”

Graceland’s Division of Social Sciences redesigned the criminal justice program and added a concentration in criminology to the sociology major.

To help support this, Graceland hired Assistant Professor of Sociology Jessica Ziegler. Her areas of concentration include violent victimization, neighborhoods and crime, corrections, substance use, families and crime, mental health, and quantitative methods and statistics.

In addition, a pilot internship program was initiated in May. Kansas City Police Department Deputy Chief Bob Kuehl has been a Graceland supporter for years and knew an internship with the KCPD would be a valuable experience for students. Kuehl and Bradley Brewster, PhD, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Graceland's Lamoni campus, collaborated to design the internship, and two students were selected to pilot the program, providing experiential learning.

“The internship pilot was really successful. Zac and Kinzey were excellent students to begin the valuable opportunity for Graceland students to experience careers that can help them make a difference in the world.”

- Bob Kuehl
Deputy Chief, KCPD

“I was very impressed with the journals that Kinzey and Zac kept as part of the program. They really were able to transfer knowledge that they learned in the classroom and apply it to their internship experiences. We were fortunate to have outstanding students to put through the pilot program. I hope the internship program finds the support to ensure it persists well into the future.”

- Bradley Brewster, PhD
Assistant Professor of Sociology