BEVERLY, Mass. – Endicott student-athletes Geoffrey Paige '18 (Abington, Mass.) and Shane Toland '19 (Canton, Conn.) have taken different routes to further their careers in the Van Loan School's fifth-year homeland security program. However, the one constant they both can agree on is that this option has given them the ability to continue to grow academically and athletically. Paige and Toland shared their stories with www.ecgulls.com below.
ECGULLS: Why did you choose the fifth-year homeland security studies program?
PAIGE: I chose this program because it is a growing and evolving field. I've always wanted to serve my country and homeland security is an opportunity to do that. The field of homeland security holds its employees to the highest standard possible in order to protect and serve the country in many ways.
TOLAND: As an undergraduate, the program allows Endicott students to take two of the introductory courses, one junior year second semester and one senior year first semester. The remainder of my courses will begin shortly after commencement and I will have completed the program by next May with a concentration in cybersecurity. This is a great benefit for students who can see themselves choosing this route academically. Furthermore, I chose this program because I wanted to learn more about my career path, make myself more marketable with a master's degree, and further develop my skills in writing, critical thinking, public speaking, and leadership. I thought the program would be a great opportunity for growth and would pay off throughout my career.
ECGULLS: What are your career goals upon the completion of this program?
PAIGE: I hope to work for any federal agency in a cyber unit. I would like to rise through the ranks and become a figure of influence in homeland security.
TOLAND: Upon completion of this program, I will pursue a career in law enforcement at the federal level. Due to the lengthy application and hiring process of agencies at this level, I plan to start applying to positions in the next few months so that I can hopefully start working shortly after completing the program. Careers in law enforcement that I will apply to at the federal level will be the U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Air Marshals Service, Customs and Border Protection, Homeland Security Investigations, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Fire Arms, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. I plan on casting a pretty wide net and probably moving around a bit once I get in at the Federal level. If I have trouble getting in right out of school I will probably apply for the State Police or look for opportunities in the private sector. In the long run, my goal is to retire after a career in federal law enforcement and start my own private security company.
ECGULLS: As a student-athlete, why is this option important to you?
PAIGE: I played football here all four years as an undergrad while completing my bachelor's in criminal justice. Once football ended, it wasn't the same to me being in school without a sport. I decided to play rugby after talking to one of my former teammates. Playing a sport while completing a fifth-year degree is just as busy, if not busier than being an undergrad. It helps you focus on the long-term goal of graduating while having the ability to continue an athletic career. I've met many great people while playing rugby, especially Coach Dave Kenkel, who has taught me so much more than I can apply in the real world. We had the opportunity to win a national championship in late April and that is something that rarely happens in a lifetime for a lot of people. I feel so fortunate having had that opportunity in my fifth-year here. Also, having a sport as a fifth-year looks great on a resume and shows potential employers that you are a committed individual.
TOLAND: As a student-athlete, this is a great option. Unfortunately, I endured a season-ending injury at the start of my senior season but was able to obtain a medical red-shirt which allowed me an additional year of eligibility. Prior to my injury, I planned on pursuing my master's here at Endicott but felt I would be missing a part of my experience here without the sport and team that I love. Although my injury was unfortunate, I am thankful that I will be able to continue my Endicott career as a student-athlete. My experience as a member of the Endicott football program has allowed me to grow more than any other experience(s) over my last four years, so to have the opportunity to continue my career as a student-athlete for just one more year is one that's hard to describe, especially when there have been a lot of guys playing alongside me that have not had that same opportunity.
ECGULLS: Do you see this field as an emerging field? If so, why?
PAIGE: Homeland security is definitely an emerging and growing field. Unfortunately, the United States will always face threats from across the world and the government will need dedicated individuals to prevent those from happening. Cybersecurity is also a growing concentration as technology continues to evolve each day.
TOLAND: Homeland Security is absolutely an emerging field as well as law enforcement. There are tons of jobs that need to be filled and there will continue to be. There are new and evolving threats every day that need to be addressed and adapted to as well as many unknown threats that have yet to occur which may even be unpredictable. There need to be people that are ready to face those threats – prepare for them, prevent them, and manage them. Nothing is 100% safe or secure so there need to be continuous improvements for this field to evolve to meet the ever-evolving threats in the world.