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Criminal Justice & An Important Promise

Criminal justice Alumni Joseph Mickey

Joseph Mickey Jr., grew up knowing the importance of an education and hard work. His father, Joseph Mickey, Sr., instilled the importance of an education even as a professional football career was forming for his son.

“He was able to follow my collegiate and brief professional football career but always emphasized the importance of obtaining that degree,” Mickey said of his late father who was a civil engineer and captain in the Army. “I made a promise to him. I try my best to never make a promise I can’t keep and work as hard as I can to keep those I do. I’m sure he’d be proud that I earned a degree in Criminal Justice from CLS. ”

After a career in the NFL did not materialize, Mickey turned his focus to other business-oriented goals and founded a drug and rehabilitation center, New Alternative Center of Oklahoma (NACOK), where he has been the executive director for the past nine years.

“In order to give myself a better chance at success as an entrepreneur and business person, I had to incorporate an interdisciplinary thought process throughout my business plan and the degrees CLS offered were the perfect fit. It’s important for our organization to consider the variety of different disciplines involved in the criminal justice system; knowing how everything works together is crucial for everyday NACOK business. Thinking about all the various perspectives–psychiatrist,  clinical counselor, legal counsel, defense and prosecuting attorneys, probation and parole officers, and the judge–is critical to the client and business’s success.”

Wearing Many Hats

Keeping his promise to his father of obtaining a college degree has not been without difficulties though. Mickey had to find a balance with his work and family obligations while also fitting in time for studying.

“As the executive director and program coordinator, I already spent most of my time at the facility wearing many hats. If someone is sick or can’t make it in, I may be a secretary, mentor, janitor, or assistant for the day. Getting time to actually study was a huge challenge. The only time I found was 8:00 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, often immediately after exercise or a four-mile jog.”

As a CLS student, Mickey learned that, even after sports, he was still competitive and wanted to be the best he could be, and he credits that competitive spirit with helping him push through those challenges.

“I wanted to challenge myself to do better than I did on the last assignment. I had a chance to be known for my academics rather than my athletics and I always encouraged young men and women in our program to get back in, or remain in school despite setbacks or hardships, such as going through the justice system. I simply could not be a hypocrite. I had to lead by example of what I was asking of them; go back to school.”

Making A Difference

Earning his degree has impacted Mickey’s life in many ways including advocating for his clients, and most importantly it has given him the credibility to push both his children and at-risk youth to further their education.

Whether you know it or not, others will learn from your success, failures, mistakes…

“I enjoy waking up every morning knowing I have the ability to better someone else’s life. Understanding that everyone has the ability to be a positive influence for someone is priceless. Whether you know it or not, others will learn from your success, failures, and mistakes. CLS has given me the education to keep my promise to my father and make my future limitless!”

Joseph Mickey Jr., has advocated for alternative sentencing for young offenders including productive probation and community service since 2004. 

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The College of Liberal Studies is a fully accredited academic unit of the University of Oklahoma, offering 100% online, hybrid and onsite bachelor's and master's degrees for working adults and non-traditional students.

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