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The Motivation Issue

A   L A W   E N F O R C E M E N T



As a teenager, Diane Scanga had the opportunity to go on a ride-along with a veteran police officer. As she listened to him describe his job, something inside her clicked, and she knew she had found her calling.


Today, she finds satisfaction in sharing her knowledge with others through her role as director of the Jefferson College Law Enforcement Academy. She’s also supporting law enforcement leaders around the world by serving as the 2012 president of the prestigious professional association, FBI National Academy Associates, Inc.

Diane Scanga, MBA ’08
Director, Jefferson College Law Enforcement Academy
Hillsboro, Missouri

The Motivation Issue

Green behind the ears

After high school, Scanga decided to join the cadet program of the Kirkwood Police Department to pursue her newfound ambition. When she arrived to apply for the program, she asked for the sergeant in charge, and a man offered to take her to him. As they walked together to the City Hall building, the man asked her why she was at the police department. “I told him, ‘I want to be chief,’” she remembers, laughing. She didn’t realize it then, but the man she was talking to was the police chief, someone who would support her throughout her tenure with the department.

This was an auspicious beginning to a career that would exceed her hopeful expectations. “Once I got into the cadet system, there wasn’t anything I didn’t like,” she says. “That was the blessing of the cadet program. I thought I knew what I was getting into, but it was even better than I thought.”

Scanga was undeterred by the fact that she joined the Kirkwood Police Department when it was just starting to recruit women. “There were seven females in my [police academy] class of 40,” she says. She shrugs off the notion that this was a significant obstacle to her. “My parents had always told me, ‘If you want it, go and get it,’” she says, simply. And so she did.

“My parents had always told me, If you want it, go and get it.”

Diane Scanga, MBA ’08

A blossoming career

At the time, Kirkwood was a bedroom community with a diverse population of 30,000. “We had federal housing in one area and million-dollar homes in another,” she notes. It made for a unique demographic, one that kept her job interesting. Scanga quickly fell into the rhythm of her new career, enjoying the broad range of duties that made up her days. “It was fun,” she says. Her favorite assignment was when she worked in traffic patrol, becoming the first female motorcycle officer in the greater St. Louis area. “I got paid to ride,” she says. “I thought, ‘Can life get any better?’”

Over the years, Scanga served as a patrol officer, a patrol sergeant, a lieutenant and finally a captain. “I was always training and working hard, always trying to see what else was out there,” she says. “I [covered] everything except juveniles and drugs.”

The Motivation Issue
Diane Scanga closeup

Time for education

In 1988, Scanga had the opportunity to attend the globally recognized FBI National Academy, an 11-week training course for law enforcement leaders across the country and around the world. “You’re housed with 199 total strangers, and by the time your training is over, you would step in front of a bus for them if you had to,” she says.

This life-changing experience also yielded her 15 college credits. “This jump-started my desire for a bachelor’s degree,” she says. “My goal was to get my bachelor’s degree before our oldest child graduated high school.”

She did, and realized it was time to think about life after the Kirkwood Police Department. Scanga, who also was teaching part time at a local community college, knew that a master’s degree would be key to her future. “I looked for a school that could work with my schedule, my family and life commitments and my desire to learn. “University of Phoenix fit all my criteria.” She went on to earn her MBA in just 18 months while working full time.

A new opportunity

While she was working toward her MBA, Scanga learned that Jefferson College was looking for a new director for its law enforcement academy. “When the director job came up I thought, ‘What a great blend. I can combine police work and teaching, which is what I love.’” She landed the job and later her role expanded. She is now responsible for the EMT and paramedic programs and the fire science technologies degree in addition to the law enforcement academy. “As much as I enjoyed the street, no midnights or holidays is a nice way to spend my ‘retirement’ from Kirkwood Police Department,” she jokes.

This “retirement” also includes her service on the board of the FBI National Academy Associates, something that is close to her heart from her own training all those years ago. Scanga was elected to this progressive board in 2004, serving as a representative for four years, then three years as the vice president and today presiding as president. Next year will be her last on the board when she serves as past president.

For all her accomplishments over the past 30-plus years, Scanga’s greatest satisfaction is seeing the same light in the eyes of her recruits at Jefferson College that she once had as a starry-eyed cadet at Kirkwood. It’s what keeps her motivated to continue to serve her community and fellow law enforcement professionals. “The energy and optimism of the recruits—they are a jump-start for anyone!”

A law enforcement leader


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- The surprising truth about motivation

- Q & A with Stedman Graham

Onward and upward: Moving ahead
one step at a time

On the cover: Blazing a trail

Rosa Sherk, MBA ’08

Looking along a path that climbed from the farm fields of her childhood to multiple careers and college degrees, it’s safe to say this is one motivated alumna.

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Tim Tobin
A reservation for success

Diane Scanga
A law enforcement leader

David Fried

Amir Johnson

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