Chris Cappannelli ’15
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Leadership and Management
What brought you to St. Thomas University?
After I completed my Master’s degree in 2015, I came across a social media ad touting the online Ed.D. program in Leadership and Management, and I was interested in pursuing a terminal academic degree to bolster my post-retirement credentials. The Catholic history and identity of STU, coupled with the fact that STU is located about 30 minutes from my home in Southwest Broward, factored significantly into my decision to explore and, ultimately, pursue my doctoral studies there.
Where are you now and what are you doing?
I am a Federal special agent and involved supporting the asset forfeiture aspect of criminal investigations; I won one local and one national award for my work this past year.
What do you like most about what you are doing?
I gain satisfaction that my work disrupts and dismantles complex criminal enterprises by removing the infrastructure and financial resources that would otherwise reward criminals’ bad behavior and/or enable that bad behavior to continue beyond simply incarcerating the perpetrators.
How did your experience at St. Thomas University shape your career path?
Although I was already pretty far along into my Federal career (about 25 years) by the time I started at STU, there are always new opportunities for growth. Since receiving my doctorate in 2018, I have been asked to run my agency’s Citizen’s Academy, which exposes local political, business and other leaders to the daily activities of – and challenges faced – by special agents in the execution of their duties. I also sit on the office advisory council, which advises local executive management on matters of concern to field agents and suggests improvements to processes. Finally, I currently act as a subject matter expert in financial crimes to students participating in a Master’s capstone project at another local university.
Share your favorite St. Thomas University memory?
My favorite memory is the day before and day of graduation – the coming together of all the people at all levels I met along the pathway of my journey over almost three years and solidifying connections and bonds that I will treasure for years.
What is the most important thing you learned while you were attending St. Thomas University?
During my doctoral research, I was not able to definitively prove or disprove something I thought was true. There are limitations, exclusions, biases and confounding factors in the realm of research, and that premise applies to life, as well. One must learn to keep an open mind, and realize that, sometimes, not all is as it appears or one thinks it might be.
What advice would you give current students or recent graduates interested in pursuing a career in your professional field?
Law enforcement is an increasingly challenging profession, given the myriad of complex political and social pressures upon it. I would urge candidates to consider the potential impacts of their career goals, such physical, psycho-social and financial, upon themselves and their families. Far too often, people jump into careers without considering if it is a good fit, and the choice to pursue law enforcement (and other public safety professions) should not be taken lightly