Dawn (Seefeldt) O’Neill, Ph.D., BCBA - Sioux City, IA
Behavioral Scientist, Force Science Institute
Majors: Criminal Justice, Psychology
I chose USD because of its strong criminal justice program. I’ve always had an interest in combining criminal justice and psychology, but I soon discovered that “criminal profilers” only exist in Hollywood.
My courses with Professor Roche were challenging and worth the effort. I recommend taking smaller seminar classes, especially Justice and Compassion. Justice and Compassion teaches students to appreciate the perspectives and situations of others. We spent time with people with disabilities, older adults at an assisted living center and inmates at the South Dakota State Penitentiary. Thanks to my experiences at USD, I landed internships with a county communication corrections agency and a consolidated police force. Both helped me understand law enforcement and community reintegration after incarceration.
Today, I conduct research with professionals from a variety of backgrounds, including law enforcement, law, psychology and exercise science. I study behavior during encounters between police and the public -- things like changes in memory, attention, perception, reaction time, speed, shooting dynamics and tactical skills. This helps us understand what the average officer or civilian is capable of doing. This is sometimes very different from how the public thinks officers will perform, especially during an encounter that involves the use of force.
Katie Douglas - Pierre, SD
Press Secretary for U.S. Senator Mike Rounds
Major: Political Science
As the press secretary for U.S. Senator Mike Rounds on Capitol Hill, I work closely with news organizations to communicate our message to the public. It’s the most fun job I’ve ever had, but it certainly comes with its challenges. We’re working under a 24-hour news cycle, and news can break at any time, so we have to be prepared to respond in a timely manner. That’s why I like it so much - no two days are ever the same. It keeps me on my toes, and I have the opportunity to meet fascinating people every day.
I applied to USD because both of my parents - and many of their friends - are alumni. I chose to attend because of the opportunities available in the political science department. I stayed because I was able to make lifetime connections with so many great people, through my experiences as a member of Kappa Alpha Theta, College Republicans and as a student in the Department of Political Science.
My courses and extracurricular activities in the political science department really helped steer me toward a career in government. Through the Farber Fund, I received numerous opportunities to travel and experience government outside of the classroom, including Washington D.C. and Costa Rica. It also helped pay for my housing when I interned on Capitol Hill for a summer.
My trip to D.C. reinforced my desire to live in this exciting city and pursue a career in politics. I highly encourage students to take advantage of the opportunities presented to you by the department, especially the Farber Fund.