Jennifer Hall was a teenage mother when she graduated from high school. She didn’t know what she wanted to do, so she joined the Army, and served in Kuwait and Iraq. After the military, she returned to the community and couldn’t find a job.
After almost a year, she found a job in corrections. She completed jail and correctional officer training at the Eastern Shore Criminal Justice Academy (ESCJA) at Wor-Wic and went to work at the Wicomico County Department of Corrections.
While working in corrections, she met her husband, who was a detective with the Cambridge Police Department. “He dared me to apply for a job as a deputy, so I did,” Hall said. “I got hired by the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office, entered the police academy at Wor-Wic in 2007 and graduated that same year.
“My husband had his degree and knew I had GI Bill benefits I could use,” Hall explained. “He encouraged me to use them before I lost them.”
While enrolled in the ESCJA at Wor-Wic, she got to know Fred Howard, director of veterans services. “Between him and the support from my family, it was awesome. My husband encouraged me to go to school, but Fred was the reason I chose Wor-Wic. He knew me and knew I had been in the service. He went above and beyond and out of his way to help. I’ve learned that nobody knows you like a veteran. I was so blessed to have Fred as a friend and as a mentor because I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for him, because I was literally going to let the GI Bill expire. Fred also told me about scholarships for veterans that would pay for my books and other things that I needed. It was tremendous because I was kind of hesitant about how I was going to do it all. In addition, he also helped me stay on top of everything — between school, husband and kids, I was all over the place. He made sure I didn’t miss any deadlines. He always said, ‘anything you need, let me know.’”
Hall decided to get her associate degree in criminal justice because it related to her job and the class schedules were flexible enough to work around her shifts as a deputy. “I was able to check all my boxes while still being a full-time mom and full-time officer.”
Hall says she valued the communication and understanding from her instructors at Wor-Wic. “They are so helpful, unlike other programs I’ve been to at other facilities and schools. I had an instructor who understood when I had to step out of class to take work calls. This understanding brought my anxiety and stress level down so I could focus. No, they weren’t going to let me get away with anything, but they were understanding when something serious came up. That’s why I always tell people to go to Wor-Wic.”
Hall went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in human services and said she wishes that Wor-Wic offered a master’s degree, because she would love to come back. She can retire from the sheriff’s office in about five years and is thinking about pursuing yet another new career path.
“I’ve already talked to my 11-year-old about her plans when she gets to high school. If I had known about Wor-Wic, I would have taken classes while I was in high school, along with everything else I was doing — work, track, cheerleading and choir. She is already talking about college, so she understands.”