While most college students are lucky if they can fit a few hours of a work-study job into their busy schedules, Marietta native and Ohio University senior Jen Atkins is already happily ensconced in her chosen career path.
Atkins, who takes a full 15-hour course load at OU, also clocks 30 hours a week as the environmental deputy for the Athens County Sheriff's Office.
"I usually come in to work around 8 a.m. and then, depending on class, I leave for part of the day for classes. Then I come back and work some more," said Atkins.
She joined the Sheriff's Office in June, just a week after completing the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy. The academy in Athens County runs evenings and weekends, making it much easier for people who attend school or have full-time jobs, said Atkins.
Atkins credits her interest in law enforcement to her involvement with Marietta's Ely Chapman Education Foundation, where she began volunteering in eighth grade. After seeing the facility with her mother, Atkins asked founder Alice Chapman if she had any volunteer opportunities.
"She said, 'Well I don't usually take volunteers your age but if you really want to, call me two weeks before school starts,'" Atkins recalled. "I don't think she ever expected me to call back."
Graduated from Marietta High School.
Full-time Senior at Ohio University.
Majoring in Sociology-Criminology.
Minoring in Psychology and Spanish.
Works 30 hours a week as the environmental deputy for Athens County Sheriff's Office.
Years of volunteering at Ely Chapman shaped Atkins' desire to go into law enforcement.
"I dealt with a lot of kids and you would see kids get tracked into one path or another," she said.
Eventually, Atkins hopes to break into the juvenile justice system, she said. But for now, she is enjoying the unique challenges of her job.
As Athens County's environmental deputy, Atkins is responsible for investigating illegal dumping and organizing cleanups. Atkins has even been able to parlay her status as an OU student into a very useful connection for her job.
"Working with the university, I've been able to work with a lot of student organizations to get community service out to the sites to clean it up," she said.
As if Atkins is not busy enough, she is also a cockswain for the OU men's crew team.
"The team has been really good to work with me," she said.
Atkins has always been tenacious in taking on tasks, said her father, Don Atkins, of Marietta.
"She has always been involved in a lot of things," he said.
On top of her volunteer work for the Ely Chapman Foundation, Jen spent 11 years in 4-H, and won top honors at the Ohio State Fair one year. She was also on the Washington County Junior Fair Board and was a member of Marietta High School's show choir, he said.
Finding time for work, school, sports and more is just a matter of good time management, Jen Atkins said. She finds ways to double dip, such as reading an article for class over breakfast.
"It is like Tetris, but with time," she joked.