2019 Presidential Leadership and Scholarship Award Winner Merges the Past with the Present

By Madeline Riccardi, Editor-in-Chief

On the evening before his graduation, Ryan Norkus attended the Graduation Banquet hosted by La Roche University.

As he enjoyed his final night as an undergraduate student, Sister Candace Introcaso announced the 2019 Presidential Leadership and Scholarship Award winner.

Each year, La Roche University nominates exceptional students for the Presidential Leadership and Scholarship Award. According to the La Roche University website, these students must “exemplify the values and characteristics of the La Roche mission statement, have exemplary academic records, and are effective leaders on campus, in the workplace, or in the community.”

The Summa Cum Laude graduate was surprised when Sister Candace announced his name because he felt that all the candidates were great.

But this win was not a shock to the rest of the University.

During his time at La Roche, Norkus spent four years playing on the Men’s Basketball Team while serving as a Resident Assistance for three years.

The Criminal Justice major served as a member of the Criminal Justice Club before he became a patrol officer for the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police.

Today, he works within the city’s Zone 3, located within the Southside of Pittsburgh.

Norkus answered questions about his time at La Roche, becoming the person he is today, and working as a police officer in the City of Pittsburgh.

Pictured: Ryan Norkus – Photo Courtesy of Ryan Norkus

Q. During your time at La Roche, which classes were the most influential in shaping you into the person you are today, and why do you think these classes were the most important in shaping you?

A. Constitutional Law because of the difficulty of the class. It challenged me as a student and prepared me for my future career. I think all the writing classes [I took] had a big impact on me. Dr. Jordan Platt, Sr. Rita, and Dr. Ganni had great classes that helped improve my writing. I wasn’t a big fan of writing in college, but I never knew how much I would end up using it for work.

Q. When you were a student at La Roche, did you take part in any internships?

A. I did an internship with the City of Pittsburgh Police and at Curtiss-Wright. I found the internships online and was referred by professors.

Q. What do you strive for as a police officer?

A. I’m not totally sure what I want to do in the Police Force just yet. My plan is to be the best patrol officer that I can be and go from there.

Q. What do you attribute your success in your chosen field to?

A. God for leading me the right direction. My family for giving me the support needed. La Roche for giving me the opportunity to improve myself. Coaches and Professors who have guided me in the right direction.

Q. In what ways do you feel that La Roche shaped you into the person that you are today both professionally and non-professionally?

A. The diversity at La Roche helped me be around people who came from different cultures. Learning about other students’ backgrounds and beliefs have helped me understand people better at work. I think Coach Carmichael has a huge impact in my life. Coach Carmichael talked about core values for the Men’s Basketball Team. The Core Values of Discipline, Unselfishness, Respect, Trust, and Focus created a culture for our Men’s Basketball team. The culture, along with the core values, helped shape me on and off the court. Today, the culture is still with me. I take pride in everything I do and that comes from the culture created by Coach Carmichael.

Q. What do you believe was your biggest impact during your time at La Roche University?

A. I didn’t have one big impact. I just tried to be nice to everyone I talked to and help others when they needed it.

Q. What are your favorite and least favorite parts of your job and why did you choose them to answer this question?

A. I think my least favorite part of my job would be the late 911 calls you get right as your shift ends. The calls always seem to be perfect timing with the end of your shift. My favorite part of my job is helping people. I like working with people. Police work is a front row seat to the greatest show on earth. I like that two days are never the same.


Q. What made you want to be a police officer?

A. I wanted to become a Police Officer because I wanted to help people. I was the victim of crime, and the officers that helped me made me feel comfortable. I liked that and wanted to do that for others.

Q. When you were younger, what job did you see yourself having when you were all grown up?

A. I wanted to be a physical therapist. I did an internship in high school that helped me figure out that wasn’t the right thing for me.

Q. As of now, have you lived up to what your younger self wanted to be? How do you feel about this?

A. Yes, I definitely lived up to what my younger self imagined. I get to work for the city that raised me. I get to meet a lot of great people and help the community.

Q. What is the average day like as a police officer?

A. There is no average day. One day you can be handling parking complaints or noise complaints. The next you can have 5 arrests; you just never know.

Q. Where do you see yourself professionally in 10 to 15 years?

A. My plan is to keep improving myself and learning more skills. I’d like to just keep getting better every day, and then when opportunities present themselves, I’ll be ready.

Q. You are a police officer in a relationship with another officer. In what ways does your high-stress and high-mental impact occupation affect your relationship?

A. I think it actually benefits our relationship. Being a Police Officer has weird work hours and you work on holidays. It’s tough to have a normal life, but we have similar shifts which allows us to see each other a lot. We can also talk about things at work that we wouldn’t be able to talk about if either of us had different jobs. But for the most part, we try to leave work at work.

Q. Do you have any advice or anything to say to the students who strive to work in law enforcement?

A. Try to find internships and look up different fields in law enforcement. There are a lot of opportunities. Network with as many people as possible. Have friends outside of law enforcement. Stay away from the news.

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