Giving Her Whole Self to Her City
By Brianna Flavin on 06/01/2023
The community she serves is a huge deal for Rebecca Modeen, a recent graduate of Rasmussen University’s Law Enforcement Associate’s Degree program.1 Modeen lives in Saint Paul and has fallen in love with the city. As someone who thrives on relational connections, she was looking for a public service career that could make her daily work that much more meaningful.
“I know it sounds cheesy,” she laughs, “But I really want to do something every day that contributes to a greater purpose for my community.”
At first, she tried a nursing program, but it wasn’t a great fit. “I’m not super into staying in a building all day,” Modeen says with a grin. “Working in the hospital, that’s a lot of being inside.”
Finding the service career to match her priorities
It wasn’t about prioritizing a role so much as it was about prioritizing a place. “Saint Paul has so much to offer,” Modeen says. “This is my calling, giving my whole self to my community. I would have a hard time feeling as passionate about a different place.”
When she started thinking about public service roles with more time outdoors, law enforcement came to mind. The Law Enforcement Associate’s degree program at Rasmussen University appealed to her because it seemed to be made for working adults.
“I didn’t want to stop everything and go to school 5 days out of the week,” Modeen says. “What attracted me most was it seemed like a school where you could keep working.” She liked the ability to keep her job as she fit her coursework into evenings and weekends. But she also wanted a program she could really connect to.
To her joy, her online courses felt very personable. “I tried other places where the in-person classes felt less personal than the online classes I took [at Rasmussen],” Modeen says. “Every instructor shared their personality and their reason for teaching.”
Some of her instructors were Saint Paul police officers, and Modeen went for a ride-along to get a better view of the role. The passion she saw in her instructors for their communities made an impact. “It was so cool to have Saint Paul officers, they were trained from some of the best backgrounds we have in Minnesota, and they have a deep connection to the city.” At that point, she was hooked.
Working through hurdles
Then COVID hit, and Modeen’s skills program shut down for a while. When things restarted, Modeen had a new baby. Her law enforcement plans were on pause for a bit, but never abandoned. “When I was home with my son, I asked, ‘Can I see myself getting back into it?’” she remembers. “I realized my son won’t be home forever, and I really wanted to finish.”
When Modeen returned to her program, balancing all her priorities got trickier. “The biggest barrier was just being a mom. I was working full-time and then watching my son and going to school, figuring out a routine.”
Building connections and confidence
Instructors and classmates became a huge source of connection for Modeen. She says the law enforcement program did a great job of including instructors from a wide array of backgrounds, some from other states, small towns, large cities, etc... “My patrol practicals instructor had done such a variety of things—it helped her teach in really cool ways.”
The program also facilitated some great opportunities to get to know classmates. “It’s very hands-on,” Modeen explains. “And so much of the fun is watching other people grow at the same time.” She says her cohort also had a lot in common, which helped strengthen their connection to one another.
During patrol practicals, Modeen recalls a surge of excitement as the group practiced quick decision-making in difficult scenarios. “My instinctive response tended to be the right decision for each situation,” she says. “Knowing I could trust my natural instincts gave me so much confidence.”
Helping others discover law enforcement
To anyone enrolling in a law enforcement program, Modeen has some pacing advice. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Set your pace, pick a day of the week to really focus on starting homework, then plan to chip away a little bit on the following days.”
Sometimes you get lots of small assignments that aren’t difficult, and sometimes you have a handful of papers to write that get more complex, Modeen says. “Plan ahead and handle it in parts.”
But her top tip is to go on a ride-along with a police officer. Even if you aren’t a student, you can ask for that chance to see what the career is like, according to Modeen. A ride-along really clarified things for her, and she encourages anyone interested in law enforcement to try it.
Growing deeper in her work and connection to the city
In the future, Modeen hopes to work on a specialty team within the Saint Paul PD. “Maybe the homicide unit or crime scene investigation unit, or SWAT” she considers. “I’d like to see more of what they’re all doing.”
But regardless of her specific team, Modeen wants to be very involved with community engagement. “I love that proactive style of policing, and I hope we can promote that more.” She adds that she’s the kind of person who likes to be “a regular” at many different places and hopes to have face-to-face relationships with local businesses.
“Saint Paul is huge, so it’s difficult. But I’d like to have 15-20 businesses where people could say ‘officer Rebecca might stop by and get this from our shop,’” she says. “That kind of thing makes people feel more comfortable around police officers and feel like they can call.”
As of this article, Modeen has received an offer to join the Saint Paul Police Academy and will begin her training with them this week! Her future work has already begun.
1Professional Peace Officer Education (PPOE): This program meets standards established by the Minnesota Peace Officer Standards and Training Board (MN POST) for persons who seek employment in Minnesota as a peace officer. Graduates of this program may need to successfully complete additional academic coursework, training, practical/skills and fitness standards before becoming eligible to sit for the MN Peace Officer Licensing Exam.
The Law Enforcement Associate’s degree program is not aligned to the standards of any professional licensing body other than the MN POST and is not intended to satisfy professional licensure requirements of any professional licensing agency in any other state.