One Alum’s Journey from Security Officer to Student to Instructor
Brian Evans first stepped foot on the South College Knoxville campus in 2007. A Knoxville police officer since 1998, Brian had signed up for a shift working security at the college. At the time, he had no idea that in the years ahead that he’d not only earn a Master of Science in Criminal Justice from South College but eventually teach there as well.
Phase 1: Getting to Know South College
Before long, Brian was working security on campus several times a week. He quickly built friendships with faculty and staff and got to know many students.
“I am proud to be associated with South College in each of my roles,” he says. “Working security and teaching, I have had the opportunity to interact with thousands of students and to share stories about my life and experiences and to learn a little bit about theirs.”
In 2011, Brian was well-established in his law enforcement career and still working campus security on the side when he learned about the school’s new Criminal Justice master’s degree. The program piqued his interest.
“I compared the curriculum at South College to many other institutions and realized that the program South College offered fit my needs the best of any I had researched,” he says. “The master’s program provided opportunities for research and to study theories about crime, management, ethics, victimology, legal issues, and the history of policing.”
Phase 2: Becoming a Student
As an adult with a family and career, Brian was initially nervous about earning a degree. Did he really have the time? Would his course schedule fit with his work schedule? Had he been out of school too long to go back? How would he pay for his education?
To discuss these questions, Brian met with instructors, admissions, and financial aid representatives, who reassured him that he could make it work and could even qualify for the South College First Responder grant. In addition, Brian was confident from his time on campus that the staff and faculty genuinely cared about the success of each student.
When his classes started, the material both challenged Brian to explore new policing methods and provided validation for his existing knowledge and experience. He also benefited from the small class sizes and access to faculty members and support resources.
“When faced with questions in a class or academic challenges, I simply dropped by the campus, called, or emailed and immediately received a response,” he explains. “On more than one occasion, my faculty members met with me one-on-one to explain material or provide guidance. They took time to get to know me and my goals and then worked with me to accomplish those goals.”
He also appreciated learning from people who were practitioners in their fields. “My instructors had first-hand knowledge about the concepts, theories, and information they were teaching,” he says.
Phase 3: Moving Up & Giving Back
After graduating in 2012, Brian advanced into a leadership role as a Police Lieutenant and Traffic Services Coordinator in the Knoxville Police Department’s Patrol Division. He oversees the city’s Motorcycle Unit, Criminal Interdiction Unit, hit and run and fatal crash investigations, automated camera enforcement program, school crossing guard program, and special event and construction road closures.
In 2014, he took on another role as well—Adjunct Instructor at South College. “Police work is my passion. It is about interacting with people and problem solving. I think teaching at a college is similar,” he says. “As an Adjunct Instructor, I am fortunate enough to be able to share this passion with others who want to serve their communities, to make this field better, and to be future leaders in criminal justice.”
At South College, Brian shares his expertise with students who are eager to learn and eager to pursue similar career paths. At times, he still finds himself learning, as he gains invaluable insight into perceptions about policing and criminal justice from his students.
“The desire to learn has been a driving force in my adult life, and the decision to continue my education at South College was one of the best decisions I have ever made,” he says. “Every day I apply knowledge and skills that were taught and reinforced in the South College Criminal Justice Program.”