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Juvenile Probation Officer Encourages Teens to Realize Their Potential
Jermaine McQueen ’17 grew up in southwest Philadelphia with his mom and three younger siblings. While his mom did all she could, McQueen admits life was difficult with no father figure, a school known as one of the worst in the city, and violence in the neighborhood. McQueen admits to yelling at teachers and getting into physical altercations.
To improve his educational opportunities, his mom enrolled him at Folk Arts Cultural Treasurer Charter School. McQueen yelled at one of his first teachers there, too. The subsequent detention seismically shifted McQueen’s life.
There, his fifth-grade teacher, William Davidson, talked to McQueen about the potential he saw in him.
“I told him about everything that was going on at home and how I was feeling about my life at that certain point in time,” said McQueen. “He told me that I was capable of more than what I thought and would help me in any way that he could. That is exactly what he did. From that moment on, he’s guided me in the right direction.”
Davidson told him about the Milton Hershey School, a private, residential school for children from low-income families, located just 15 minutes from LVC’s campus. Davidson and McQueen traveled together to tour Milton Hershey twice, and McQueen eventually enrolled at the boarding school as a sophomore in high school. The pair kept in close touch, and Davidson even brought McQueen’s family to watch his athletic competitions in high school and then later at LVC.
“The way he took me under his wing and guided me throughout the years when I never believed in myself is what I want to do for others,” said McQueen, a criminal justice graduate of LVC who now works as a juvenile probation officer in Lebanon County.
Informed by his own experiences, he makes arrests and serves warrants, but he also emphasizes counseling and rehabilitation.
“I want to show people there is another life outside of living a criminal lifestyle,” he said. “I want them to realize the great potential they have and for them to learn to believe they can do whatever they put their minds to.”
On days when his job is mentally and emotionally challenging, McQueen said it’s the success stories that encourage him to persevere.
“If I can go home feeling like I made a positive impact on another person’s life, I’m the happiest guy on the planet. I like to see the people I work with get their lives together and make something of themselves,” he said.
McQueen was recruited to LVC by former head football coach Jim Monos and went on to compete for the football team and men’s track and field team. McQueen said the adjustment to being away from home was made easier by having already attended Milton Hershey.
As part of his LVC academic program, McQueen completed an internship with the Swatara Township Police Department. He also gained work experience as a security officer and a one-on-one counselor at a rehabilitation program in Harrisburg. Each of these experiences proved to be an important step in his career.
McQueen is now taking online courses for a master’s degree in criminal justice with a concentration in federal law enforcement.
“I do hope to one day be a special agent for either the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Drug Enforcement Administration,” he said. “I might even consider trying to commission into a military branch as an officer. I just know I want to help make the world a better place on a larger scale.”
When he reaches that goal, said McQueen, he knows he has people to thank for their support along the way.
“Before going to Milton Hershey, I would have never thought I would ever reach this level of success,” he said. “But, I always knew there was something more for me. I just needed a push and people along the way to help me and believe in me during all the times that I didn’t believe in myself. Thanks to those people, especially my mother and William, I am where I am today.”