CJ Advisor Finds Calling in Higher Education

Brian Howard has taken the University’s motto to heart throughout his academic career at Sam Houston State University and now he wants to pass that lesson on to current students at the College of Criminal Justice.

Howard served as an Orientation Leader, a Resident Advisor, a Maintenance Worker in Resident Life, and a Graduate Assistant in Homeland Security while pursuing his studies at Sam Houston State University. Through his service to the campus, Howard discovered he liked working in higher education and decided to make it his career. This summer, he became an Academic Advisor at the College of Criminal Justice and will graduate with a Master of Science in Homeland Security Studies.

“As an Orientation Leader, we greet students at the door as soon as they get here,” said Howard. “We tell them what to expect and what they need to get done. We convey what the Bearkat experience really entails and try to embody the motto: ‘The measure of a life is its service.’”

As an academic advisor, Howard can help guide students through their academic pursuits – and college life.

“We like to say we are Advisors, etc.,” said Howard. “We help with career counseling and life counseling. We also can be teachers, and we can help students understand that we have gone through what they are going through. They don’t have to go through their educational endeavors alone. We can sympathize and guide them through it.”

As a Resident Advisor working in the small houses on campus and later Raven Village, Howard employed the “grassroots approach” to engage students in college life. “I would go knocking on doors or leave my doors open,” said Howard, who often drew students in with a loud football game on TV. “I had an ‘open door policy,’ literally,” he said.

Howard knows what it’s like to leave home for the first time.

“I came up to Sam Houston from Houston, and I never got out of the city much,” said Howard. “coming to Huntsville kind of felt like I was coming to a far-off island. Over time I was fortunate enough to feel at home.”
Howard credits Dr. Bernice Strauss, Director of Academic Support at the SAM Center, as being a mentor that kept him on the straight and narrow.

“I was a thick-headed freshman,” admits Howard. “Dr. Bernice Strauss and the Bearkat Learning Community helped mold me into a man. I grew up and became an adult. It helped bring me down to earth.”

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree from SHSU in December 2014 as a political science major and criminal justice minor, Howard realized he enjoyed research and decided to pursue a master’s degree. The Homeland Security Studies degree was a way to combine his love of political science and law enforcement. Howard also served as a graduate assistant for Dr. Russell Lundberg, where he examined state drug polices and the impact of California prison realignment.

“It focused a lot on theory, and we were encouraged to dwell on research on what is homeland security,” said Howard. “We discovered our own truths.”

As he advanced through his education, Howard’s commitment to higher education grew. He wants to share his experience with other students as an Academic Advisor to help them succeed.

“My word is my bond,” Howard pledges. “If I say something, I am going to do something. If I say I am in your corner, I’ll be your strongest advocate.”

Member of The Texas State University System