Impact stories from

NHTI - Concord's Community College


NHTI Alumnus Puts Criminal Justice Degree to Work as Prison Warden

Corey Riendeau has been the warden of the Northern New Hampshire Correctional Facility in Berlin since 2018. As a Berlin native, the job was a small step for him geographically, but he says it was a big leap professionally. “I am 100 percent surprised where I ended up,” he laughs.

Even in high school, Corey knew he wanted to pursue a career in criminal justice. The state prison was being built then and offered a great opportunity for future employment. Corey calculated that starting an associate degree in Criminal Justice in 1998 with the goal of completing it in two years would align perfectly with the planned prison opening and a potential job in 2000. Corey relocated to Concord to get his degree at NHTI-Concord’s Community College.

“It was a very good program that was recognized by a lot of four-year colleges, plus they had the police academy right there. That’s what drew me down to Concord,” he explains. Corey initially intended to pursue a bachelor’s degree after completing courses at NHTI, but he soon realized that an associate degree would qualify him for the jobs he wanted. “Some law enforcement jobs only required a high school diploma, so having the associate degree gave me the edge,” he says.

Corey returned to Berlin to work as a corrections officer at the state prison and notes that he took jobs that “touched on almost everything in law enforcement except for probation, parole and a chief position.” After attending the police training in Gorham, he served as a police officer there, then briefly with the state liquor enforcement agency, before joining the Berlin Police Department. He worked his way up from officer to lieutenant and police prosecutor.  When the warden position at the state prison opened in 2018, Corey interviewed for the job, and impressed the hiring committee which made him an offer. Corey describes taking this position as the “best move” In his career.

The prison currently has 175 employees, a maximum capacity of 740 inmates, medical facilities, social services programs, educational services, and more. Corey says serving as a warden is like being mayor of a town. He admits there was a steep learning curve initially, but he quickly settled into the position.

Corey marvels that he is sitting in the warden’s chair today, thanks to the associate degree that served as the foundation for his law enforcement career. “Without community college, I wouldn’t be here,” he says.

He credits NHTI for providing a practical foundation to launch his career. “The professors I had were working or had worked in the field, so you got a real-life perspective.” Having the police academy adjacent to campus also provided a unique opportunity for students to see what it would be like to be a recruit. “I don’t think you get that at other schools,” Corey adds.

Corey’s appreciation for the role NHTI played in his life has made him a passionate advocate for the Community College System of New Hampshire. “I tell kids all the time not to overlook community college. You can take classes, hold a job and work your education around your schedule. Especially if you don’t know what you want to do –get an associate degree and figure out what you want instead of making a huge financial commitment at a four-year program where you could change your mind three or four times.”

Corey serves on an advisory committee for White Mountains Community College (WMCC) in Berlin. He and other committee members provide feedback about the curriculum and help spread the word about WMCC. “It’s a collaboration,” Corey says. “I’m always thinking about recruitment and retention (at the prison), but I have also learned so much. I had no idea how much the community college actually does and how much they invest in their students.”

Corey and his staff are doing their part to spread the word through a for-credit Introduction to Corrections class they teach at Berlin Middle/High School. When Corey speaks to the students, he encourages them to get their associate degree at a community college while working in corrections. “They don’t have to take Criminal Justice courses to be in criminal justice. I talk with them about all the options available at the community college. I think I push the community college system pretty well,” he smiles.

The inmates at Northern New Hampshire Correctional Facility also have an opportunity to take community college classes. WMCC and NHTI received a Second Chance Pell Grant as part of the U.S. Department of Education’s Second Chance Initiative (ESI). Through the grant, WMCC sends instructors to teach inmates in-person and offers online opportunities.

Corey appreciates the vital role that community college plays in his life and the lives of the people around him. He sums up, “I am proud of this institution. I’m proud to be sitting here. And I’m proud that all these years later, I am using the same associate degree that I got 20-something years ago.”

To learn more about NHTI – Concord’s Community College, visit the college’s website: