“Decide how you want to live, and then go after it.” –Kristy Dassow ’18
Though it took only four and a half years, FVSU’s valedictorian Kristy Dassow ’18 feels like it has taken her forever to receive her criminal justice degree. It remained a constant goal for her, however, even as she worked daily in law enforcement, moving within the ranks to become a detective with Georgia’s Athens-Clarke County Police Department. Though she completed rigorous training, Dassow still desired the college degree she felt would help her advance in her field. Now, she is preparing to graduate this Saturday with the highest grade point average in the graduating class. She is the mother of three children, ages, 22, 19, and 14. They are her world, she said, and kept her laser-focused on her goals of attaining a degree and continuing to build her career.
“Education was never on the back burner for me, as I was just trying to work and support my family by myself,” Dassow said.
Dassow credits strength, dedication, effort, and drive in helping her reach her goals. Her career has spanned a decade and she has acquired over 1,700 hours of police-related training. She has held a wide range of positions in law enforcement, from dispatcher to patrol officer to field training officer, a role in which she helped shape and mold new officers. She’s also worked in the county jail and performed duties related to hostage negotiation. Today, she specializes in domestic violence and sexual assault crimes. Though her job is intense and demanding, she was still determined to make time to earn her degree.
She vividly remembers one of her earliest conversations with the FVSU admissions office.
“I was excited,” she said. “I was going to do this thing here called college.”
Dassow said that as a non-traditional student, she wanted to be treated with respect, but encountered bad experiences with other universities she attended before coming to FVSU. She enrolled in FVSU’s online classes upon the recommendation of a colleague and feels that the university has helped her turn her academic dreams into reality.
“Being a long-distance, fully online student, the faculty and staff have been great to me in addressing all of my concerns to make sure I achieve my academic goals,” Dassow said. “It has been an honor to say I attended this institution. I’m not just a number. I know I got on people’s nerves with all my questions and concerns, but they were so accommodating. Every conversation I had, I felt like, these people really wanted me to be successful. I’m thankful for all the support.”
Dassow was born and raised in Long Island, New York and moved to Georgia at the age of 20. She firmly believes tough times are where people grow the most. Even as she works in one of the world’s toughest professions, she finds ways to retain positivity daily, in large part by focusing on making and achieving goals.
“I make use of every single hour, in every single day,” she said. “I set daily goals and I aim to achieve at least 50 percent of those goals daily. I have goals with my health, with academics, my career, and my relationships. Every single day you have to want success. You have to believe you are capable of success. And you have to spend the rest of your life going after it. You will struggle, you will get knocked down, but you just have to keep going no matter what. So when that happens, because it will, use that pain to push you to the next level, to push you to greatness. Do what you need to get motivated, get organized, and be consistent daily,” Dassow said.