Alum Matt Kemp Credits Mercer for "Basic Training"


West Windsor Police Detective Matt Kemp '06 maintains that graduating from college is something he had to do not only for himself, but to set an example for his two children. "They have been the key motivating factors," he says. "To move ahead I always tell them a college education is necessary. Looking back, Mercer gave me the basic academic training."

It has been a circuitous route. With lackluster high school grades, Kemp decided to join the army after graduating from Notre Dame High School. Military life was a good match. He quickly rose up the ranks to become a drill sergeant.

After leaving active duty, Kemp joined the Army Reserves. His military background and budding interest in the field of law enforcement helped him land a job as a state corrections officer at the Garden State Youth Correctional Facility in Bordentown. After two years there, Kemp began joined the Pennington Borough Police Department and then graduated from the Somerset County Police Academy. Eventually he was named a detective in the operations office for the Academy, where he was in charge of recruit operations.

After graduating from Mercer in 2006,
Kemp continued his education at
Fairleigh Dickinson University.

All the while, Kemp felt that his lack of a college education impeded his full professional development. Mercer, "a school close to home with a good Criminal Justice program, was the perfect fit," Kemp said. He went back to basics, taking a couple of courses, but was interrupted when he was reactivated to serve with the 78th Division, known as the "Jersey Lightning," to train the Kuwati National Troops during Desert Storm. Upon returning home, Kemp went to work as a patrol officer for the West Windsor Police Department and again picked up his course load at Mercer.

"I learned good study habits and had great instructors," said Kemp. "Dr. Peter Horne, head of the Criminal Justice program, always had good advice. He was tough but very supportive. Dr. Robin Schore in the English Department was tough. I'm not a big reader. He encouraged me to read and write. He had a fantastic sense of detail. I enjoyed his classes."

Kemp graduated from Mercer in May 2006 with an A.S. in Criminal Justice. Learning about Fairleigh Dickinson's combined degree program, which enables students to earn credit towards a master's degree while completing their bachelor's degree, he enrolled there. Today, he is just nine credits away from receiving his Bachelor of Arts in Individualized Studies with a concentration in leadership management. He plans to go on to earn a master's in Administrative Science at the university.

His résumé will also feature another achievement: serving as a member of the Operation Cease Fire/Trenton Shooting Response Team. "Our mission has been to respond and aggressively investigate all crimes involving guns. I am really using everything I've learned in college and the Police Academy and my advanced training over the years. Although this is a temporary assignment, it has given me an unbelievable experience that I will not get at any training school," Kemp said.

To advance in life, Kemp always felt he needed to have a plan and MCCC was a major part of it. "My experiences at Mercer definitely made me more confident and determined to get my bachelor's and master's degrees, as well as seek more advanced professional development. It opened the door for me," he said.

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