Years ahead of her peers, Rhen Myers ’23 is getting a head start on pursuing her goal of working in public service.
BY JOSH HOLDER '19 | AUGUST 9, 2023
Rhen Myers graduated in August 2023 with a degree in criminal justice at just 18 years old. (Courtesy Windermere Photography)
Even from a young age, Rhen Myers was head and shoulders ahead of her classmates.
As someone who displayed academic excellence from an early age, Myers stepped onto UCF’s campus in May 2022 with 74 college credits already under her belt. She was just 16 at the time.
Fast forward to now, and Myers graduated this August with a degree in criminal justice at just 18 years old.
As a student pursuing many credits through dual enrollment with Orange County Public Schools, it was important to her that all the credits she earned go directly toward her degree. Enrolling through UCF guaranteed there would be no issues with credit transfers or course acceptance. UCF’s course flexibility was also a benefit during her four semesters as a full-time Knight, allowing her to live at home in Windermere and minimizing unnecessary commutes.
“I was very fortunate that UCF offers so many courses online,” Myers says. “The flexibility it offered me as a local commuting student was amazing. With my non-traditional route, it really was the best way for me to complete my degree.”
Despite being years ahead of her fellow Knights on paper, she did have one thing in common with many of them as she began her academic journey — she needed to choose a major.
After speaking with and shadowing professionals in a variety of fields, it was Myers’ own personal connections to the law enforcement field that drew her to declare as a criminal justice major.
“My mom is a school social worker, so we have a lot of friends that work in the law enforcement profession,” she says. “Knowing them and learning about the work that they did was a big factor in driving me to pursue criminal justice.”
Myers’ coursework solidified her connection to the field, as the lectures she received from practitioners in Bruce Vail’s class – from local police officers to FBI agents and medical examiners – helped her to visualize all the possibilities the criminal justice field offers.
“Listening to the guest speakers is when I really fell in love with the field,” she says. “Some people are really drawn to what you see about those professions in the movies, but I was totally interested in the real-life work that these people are doing every day.”
Myers says she is particularly interested in the behavioral science and criminal profiling sectors, an interest she says she would not have found without the coursework she was exposed to.
“The program does a great job of exposing you to everything,” she says. “I took various classes about the courts and correction agencies but found the courses in subjects like criminal profiling and interrogations were particularly interesting to me.”
Myers’ experience outside the classroom also helped her shape a career path. By meeting professional contacts through the Lambda Alpha Epsilon criminal justice pre-professional organization and scheduling personal meetings with some of the speakers in her courses, she was able to fully understand what her options were given her unique situation.
“As an 18-year-old college graduate, some options just aren’t available,” she says. “I’m too young to enroll in the police academy or the FBI, so I had to explore other options.”
Myers is currently on track to enlist in the United States Air Force to work in an intelligence role, during which time she plans to pursue a master’s degree. After that, she says, it is a matter of endless possibility.
“I really want to work in federal law enforcement, but at 22 years old with an enlistment on my résumé, who knows what the possibilities might be?” she says.