Associate in Criminal Justice, 1998
Future NHTI alumnus Mark Castellano played baseball in high school. During one of his many games, a college scout paid a visit on the very day that Mark happened to pitch a one-hitter.
“Needless to say, they took a liking to me. We got to talking about their programs and one of them was criminal justice.”
Mark had dreams of becoming a police officer but at the time, he was only 19 and knew that departments were looking for people with full certifications.
“I decided to pursue a degree in criminal justice at NHTI – it was convenient for me because it allowed me to continue to serve as a military policeman for the U.S. Army in Manchester and take on a part-time position as a dispatcher to get my foot in the door. Financially, it was also very cost-effective and the fact that I could transfer a ton of credits from my military service was an extra bonus – NHTI saved me a lot of time and money.”
NHTI professors with real-world experience added value by teaching beyond the textbook as they shared stories and lessons learned from the field, keeping Mark and his peers engaged and eager to hear more.
“I recall that one of my professors was a retired Massachusetts State Trooper and as you can imagine, he had dozens of engaging stories to share with us. This hands down beat learning straight from a textbook and helped keep me focused.”
In one of Mark’s other classes, discussion included highlighting the prison system.
“This particular discussion stayed with me after the class was over and I found myself wanting to hear more about the prison system and its many intricacies. Shortly after, I decided to connect with one of my army buddies who worked in the maximum custody unit at the NH state prison. After this conversation, the idea of working in a prison really started to click for me.”
Fast forward, Mark has been with the Department of Corrections in Concord for over 20 years, now serving as the corrections captain in the reception and diagnostics unit.
“The bond and comradery I get from the prison setting are pretty incredible. Sure, it can be hard, but you have to make a conscientious effort to not take it home with you. The commute home has to be your decompression.”
Mark listens to country music on his drive home – that’s his way of decompressing, as he transitions from corrections captain to family man.
“I am grateful to NHTI and my phenomenal professors for putting me on the right career path, while also being flexible and accommodating. Because of NHTI, I can proudly say that that I have a job I value.”
Bonus – during Mark’s time at NHTI, he and his team won a baseball championship.
“That’s a pretty cool NHTI memory I won’t forget.”