Beyond the Degree

Two Recent Master of Public Safety Graduates Reflect on the Impact of Their Recent Achievement

 - Photo: MPS graduates celebrate receiving their diplomas in May 2024


Having recently celebrated the completion of the Master of Public Safety (MPS) degree program, graduates Christopher Easton and Afsoon Ansari took time to share about their journey to finish their degree and how this achievement is impacting their future. 

Christopher Easton shaking hands while receiving his diploma

Christopher Easton 

Christopher Easton joined the UVA community in 2001 as a police officer on UVA Grounds, where he quickly embraced the camaraderie and fostered aspirations of pursuing an education at the University. In 2021, Easton’s dream became a reality as he graduated with a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (BIS) degree from UVA’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies. According to Easton, completing this alone was an amazing accomplishment that still has not sunk in. He elaborated that every time he sees his diploma hanging on his wall, he is still amazed and thinks, "Wow, look at that." 

After completing his bachelor’s degree, many people asked Easton what was next, and he wasn’t sure of his answer right away. It felt like a dream itself, and he never imagined continuing his education through a graduate program until he attended the FBI National Academy.  

Christopher Easton raising his hand in celebration while walking the lawn during graduation

Easton accumulated graduate credits during his time at the National Academy, making the pursuit of a master's degree appear more attainable. He subsequently fulfilled this goal by applying for the MPS program at SCPS. 

“The FBI National Academy propelled me forward to put me in a good position to work towards my master's degree," Easton said.

During his time in the MPS program, Easton enjoyed being amongst his classmates. “People were having the same thoughts, the same feeling, and were the same as me,” he explained, reminiscing about his time. Classmates and teachers, who were very “down to earth,” created an inclusive community where he thrived. 

Easton shared that the real reason driving his return to school (and becoming a double Hoo) was for himself – to achieve something he never thought achievable. Acknowledging that he was initially impeding his own path to success, Easton reflected, “If you get out of your own way and let yourself move forward, then it's amazing what you can do.” By overcoming these obstacles, Easton has completed two degrees, opened doors to advanced professional opportunities and filled himself with immense pride in the example he set for his teenage children. 

Afsoon Ansari shaking hands with fellow graduate

Afsoon Ansari 

Having attended her undergraduate years at the University of Colorado, Afsoon Ansari fell in love with the scenic state and joined the Colorado State Patrol soon after her graduation. Throughout her ensuing 21 years of service, she gained expertise in diverse areas including leadership, policy/procedure, legislative elucidation and more.  

Committed to continually enhancing her skills and expanding her opportunities, while valuing education, Ansari maintained a goal of completing her master's degree. The journey to complete this goal was not always easy, and Ansari had to quickly learn how to balance both work and education within her life. Yet her hard work and dedication allowed her to achieve this lifelong dream. 

Ansari attended the FBI National Academy, and she was eager to learn more about continuing her education at UVA SCPS. She explained, “UVA is a reputable and accredited academic organization with a rich history,” and thus was an easy choice for her master's degree. Ansari was able to transfer the credits she earned at the National Academy to SCPS. 

Afsoon Ansari walking across the lawn during graduation

During her time in the MPS program, Ansari respected the experiences of her professors and fellow classmates. She valued the unique diversity UVA attracts and enjoyed her peers’ varied backgrounds. Ansari shared that the program “validated itself” with its “true professionals.”  

Through the program’s digital platform, Ansari could connect with an array of people located in a plethora of places. “I was able to network, communicate and connect with people around the world through the virtual setting of the classes,” she explained.  

Within her current position as a Major at the Colorado State Patrol, Ansari has been able to connect many of the ideas she learned in her public safety classes to her everyday tasks. She elaborated that the program was “holistically applicable to what she was doing" on an everyday basis and enhanced her span of control and decision-making abilities. Ansari is constantly looking for new ways to improve her responsibilities within her workforce and opportunities for what she can do next.  

While she navigates what is in store for her immediate future, Ansari is eager to continue to augment her role within her workplace. She is open to the variety of new opportunities that appear every day, and she knows her newfound learnings and reinforced self-esteem will guide her through any challenge that comes her way.  

Reflecting on her journey to completing the MPS program, Ansari understands she was not able to tackle the feat alone. “The impact of this accomplishment has not only made me realize the gratitude I have for those in my personal life, but also appreciate the contribution it continues to make to my professional path ahead,” Ansari shared.  

MPS Graduates Celebrating