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Accelerated Programs for Adults

Mark Hanf

Crime Scene Investigator

After a career in police work, Mark Hanf turned to ACCEL to finish unfinished business.

As the years went by and promotions within the Seattle, Wash., Police Department kept coming, Mark Hanf's decision to leave St. Ambrose midway through his junior year in favor of a fulltime job in law enforcement didn't seem to be a problem.Hanf

"I was able to achieve most of my goals by working hard and being ambitious," Hanf said. "Much of the time, people assumed that I had a degree. But I never said that I did."

Still, one person always knew the truth about his early departure from college in 1980: Hanf himself.

That's why upon retiring from the Seattle force after 28 years and returning to Iowa two years ago, Hanf was happy to discover the ACCEL Adult Learning Program at St. Ambrose.

"It's never too late finish anything you decide is important in your life," said the 53-year-old native of Rochester, Minn., who re-enrolled last summer to resume his pursuit of a bachelor's in Criminal Justice. "So I decided to come back and do that, more for a sense of accomplishment than anything."

Hanf said there were a few moments in his life when he regretted leaving St. Ambrose about 50 hours short of a degree in order to join the force in LeClaire, Iowa.

For instance, when his his wife, Kathryn, earned her degree, despite working fulltime and raising two sons.

But Hanf, who left LeClaire for Seattle in 1983, was busy climbing that big city police department's ladder. He went from patrolman to administrator of policies and procedures for the chief, then to detective in a variety of branches, including special assault and homicide.

Early on, he helped launch a domestic violence unit and in 2003, he was tapped to start a Crime Scene Investigation unit.

Now living in Burlington, Iowa, Hanf foresees a second life chapter in the CSI realm, possibly by obtaining a master's in forensic science and eventually teaching. That can't happen without that long-delayed B.A., and Hanf said the St. Ambrose adult learning program is a great way to finish his unfinished business.

Because he must commute, Hanf will combine the convenience of ACCEL online classes with time in the classroom, where he said he finds the SAU program's "sense of community and family" particularly helpful.

"It's just the sense we're all in the same boat," he said. "All the students bring their own life experiences into the classroom."

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