Timothy Frey '10
(This story adapted from “Adult learners embody excellence in life and work” by Donna Talarico, featured in the fall 2011 issue of Elizabethtown magazine, which featured Frey and another E-town student.)
Life sometimes gets in the way. But that very detour—and the experience it offers—often gives nontraditional students the necessary knowledge and motivation to succeed in educational endeavors a little later. The School of Continuing and Professional Studies (SCPS) at Elizabethtown College understands those detours and offers working adult-friendly accelerated associate and bachelor’s degree programs at four campuses—Lancaster, York, Harrisburg and Elizabethtown—and through online courses.
SCPS alumni serve communities near and far. One shining example of “near” is Timothy Frey, crime prevention sergeant and school resource officer supervisor with the Lancaster City Bureau of Police.
The Detour of Life
Frey, in full police attire—holster and all—sits at a table in the first-floor conference room of the police station. The Pennsylvania and United States flags are displayed prominently—an appropriate setting to tell his story. He attended nursing school directly after high school with the ultimate goal of working as a trauma nurse, more specifically in-flight en route to medical centers. At the time, though, he felt out of place as a male in a female-dominated program. He went on to train as a surgical technician in the U.S. Army Reserves while simultaneously working as an orderly at Lancaster General Hospital. There, through frequent contact with city police officers as they came in with injured victims and suspects, Frey learned of the Community Service Aid, a program offering non-sworn positions within the department. He worked in various assignments: traffic control, picking up lost animals, booking prisoners and dispatching.
“Basically, I did anything that didn’t involve suspects or arrests. I was 19 years old; it was a pretty cool job to have,” he said, adding that his position entailed everything you’d see on the television show “COPS.”
Now, in his 22nd year of service with Lancaster City, Frey explains that he moved up into various positions throughout the years, including patrolman and accident investigator but always felt he needed a degree to land a bigger promotion.
The Road to E-town
"....a degree is helpful in making you well-rounded. It makes a huge difference when you list that on your resume..."
Frey continued his education primarily for career advancement. In 2004, when Frey was looking into criminal justice programs, he was drawn to the fact the SCPS accepted some work experience for transfer credits; the other schools he considered didn’t consider his previous military and police experience.
E-town awarded him a substantial amount of credits toward his bachelor’s degree. Plus, the downtown Lancaster location was conveniently located near his work—and was close enough should he have to leave to answer a call. Additionally, other schools offering criminal justice programs were cohort-based programs, a structure not conducive to his job and Army Reserve commitments. Although he was enrolled in an accelerated program, two military deployments extended his education to six years.
While Frey recognizes the convenience and innovation online classes offer, he preferred learning in the interaction and discussion of in-class learning. The research and writing skills he gained better prepared him for his job.
“I definitely think a degree is helpful in making you well-rounded. It makes a huge difference when you list that on your resume; it says something about you. And your earning potential is greater,” he said.
Since earning his degree, Frey became a sergeant and supervises the police officers stationed at city schools.
“[Writing] was relaxing for me and took me away from Afghanistan and allowed me to reflect on the 19 years of service I completed..." - Frey
The traditional programs at Elizabethtown College immerse students in service learning opportunities and encourage them to explore the bigger world; this is no different in courses offered by SCPS. But, coming from a world of service, Frey already was a perfect fit. He always wanted to help others, as his lifelong career goal demonstrates. While he didn’t pursue nursing, his current uniformed profession serves his community in many ways. And he was able to take his years of real-world experience into the classroom.
“I shared new experiences we use in the field that weren’t covered in the class, and the students who were in my classes from other majors were able to share their experiences with me,” he said.
Frey has traveled overseas to serve; the destination was Afghanistan and Kuwait where, twice, he traded his police uniform for camouflage. He was able to count his second deployment as his internship; the end result was a 20-page paper about how he applied the discipline of criminal justice to his work.
“[Writing] was relaxing for me and took me away from Afghanistan and allowed me to reflect on the 19 years of service I completed,” he said.
Frey is proud to have graduated from Elizabethtown College. While his life and work experience certainly played a role in his academic success, there’s no doubt the innovative course delivery and supportive staff contributed.
(PHOTO: Frey, pictured with Lancaster residents during a street fair event in 2011.)