Collin Ten Haken
Police Officer, Urbandale Police Department, Urbandale, Iowa
Collin Ten Haken

Serve and protect

After graduating from Northwestern with a criminal justice degree, Collin attended the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy and accepted a job with the Urbandale Police Department—the same department he interned with during college. Collin found his choice to attend NWC “very easy” after enjoying a night on campus as a prospective student. As a Red Raider, Collin worked for the college’s audiovisual department, focused on prison ministries during a mission trip and actively participated in dorm events.

Why did you choose to work in law enforcement?
I always had an interest in law enforcement, so in high school I did a ride-along with a police officer, Shawn Miller. He was easy to talk to and showed me the ropes of what it was like to be a cop. As we left the station and began driving, I knew I wanted to pursue the profession. I did several more ride-alongs throughout my senior year of high school, continuing to feel called to police work. I’m also a police offer to honor the legacy of police officers like Shawn, who was killed a couple of years ago when a driver pulled out in front of him as he was riding his motorcycle home from court.

How did your education at NWC prepare you for the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy?
It gave me a good foundation for understanding why and how people act in society and how to interact with people who are different than me. My Northwestern classes taught me how to have difficult conversations without letting them get out of control and making things worse. I also learned the basics of policing and the history behind the profession.

How would you describe your professors?
Northwestern professors are great people who care for their students deeply. They really wanted me to understand what they were teaching me. I appreciated the small class sizes and one-on-one relationships with professors, as I could count on having my questions answered. The professors really want to get to know you and your story. They want to know you as more than just another student they have in class. 

Tell us about your internship during college.
I interned with the Urbandale Police Department the summer before my junior year. The experience gave me another great inside look at what police work is really like. I gained a lot of knowledge about the different aspects of policing and the many hats police officers wear. My internship also gave me an opportunity to show the Urbandale Police Department my interest in working there, enabling me to form relationships that ultimately led to me being hired after college.

What did you appreciate most about your Northwestern education?
I appreciated Northwestern’s community. I came from a large high school, and I really liked that I was not having huge classes in lecture halls. It made for really good conversation and strong relationships with the professors. In the dorm, we had such a great community of brothers who were there for each other and did a lot of crazy things that I will remember forever.