In Service of Justice

Lexie Winkler is fascinated with criminal justice. Portland State University's online criminology and criminal justice program is helping her turn it into a career. 

After graduating from Southridge High School in Beaverton in 2009, Winkler wasn’t sure what she wanted to do. So she started in a community college and took four years to complete a two-year degree. Discouraged and still lacking focus, she took a four-year break from school after that. 

Now she has a clear career path and the momentum to keep moving forward.

“I don't feel lost at all anymore,” she says. “Because of PSU, I know what my future looks like.”

PSU’s online bachelor’s degree in criminology and criminal justice is one of the first and best in the nation. It is designed for working adults like Winkler who want to advance or change their careers. It offers the same top-notch faculty, engaging classes and support as on campus, but with the flexibility to study whenever and wherever you want. 

Serving for a day on a grand jury showed Winkler how much she enjoyed working in criminal justice. 

“I liked seeing what happens behind the scenes after someone gets arrested,” she says. 

“They were real people, not on a TV show. I thought maybe this is my calling, maybe this is what I need to do.”

A PSU academic adviser told her she was closer to a bachelor’s degree than she thought. With transfer credits from Portland Community College, she could complete her bachelor’s degree in about a year — all on her own time. 

She still works full time in digital marketing and lives in Beaverton. Grants and financial aid help pay for classes she completes fully online.

After she graduates, she hopes to work in administration for a police department or court system. An internship in her final term will give her the skills, experience and connections to get started.

“Even though I am 100% online, I don't feel neglected at all,” she says. “I would highly recommend the program. You feel good about yourself, and it makes it all worthwhile in the long run.”

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