Determined to Make a Difference

Rico Woods was determined to make a difference in the world of law enforcement. Uncertain about his future, he worked odd jobs until he learned about North Central State College.

“Walking through the doors at NC State, I found a supportive community that guided me through the enrollment process, setting me up for academic success,” Woods says.

In 2016, he began classes at North Central State College in the criminal justice department.  Although he admits to struggling with math and English, Rico sought tutoring to stay on track.  He completed his necessary general education courses over the next two years.  In 2019, he proudly graduated with an associate degree in criminal justice.

“Graduating with my degree in criminal justice from North Central helped me get my foot into some doors. I quickly saw more opportunities opening for me in a wider area,” Woods explains.

The associate degree from North Central became a stepping stone to a security job.  For two years, Woods enjoyed a flexible security position at a local library, benefitting from tuition assistance.  Working in the library gave him access to resources like OhioLink and Search Ohio, which allowed him to explore additional training to enhance his knowledge without financial burden.

After exploring universities across Ohio, he chose to pursue his bachelor’s degree at the University of Cincinnati. His credits from North Central transferred seamlessly, and UC uses the same online learning platform — Canvas.  Balancing a full-time job with academics proved to be a challenge, but Woods successfully graduated in the fall of 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

Reflecting on his achievement, Woods described his start at North Central as a “life-changing experience.”

“At North Central, the people, the professors, and advisors work hard to help students get to that next level and further their education.”

Eager to explore new opportunities, Woods plans on pursuing his master’s degree in either public administration or business in 2025.  He recognized that these degrees could open doors to diverse roles in the criminal justice field.

His story serves as an inspiration for those seeking to carve their path in the world by combining public service and higher education.