Argosy University Blog

Argosy’s Patrice Cizmar Prepares Students for Next Steps to Success in Argosy’s New Master of Law in Compliance Program


When Patrice Cizmar graduated with her law degree from Rutgers University, she hit the ground running. She served as a Superior Court law clerk and legal researcher. She operated her own law practice. She served as an Equal Housing Opportunity advocate, facilitated bankruptcy workshops, and taught law.

After stints as a legal studies professor, department head and campus president, Cizmar says she gravitated to a place and a position she loves: working one-on-one with people to help them succeed. Since 2010, she’s been an Argosy University admissions advisor, helping students navigate the admissions process and launch—or relaunch—their college careers.

“I’m one of those lucky people who loves what I do,” says Cizmar. “My job is to guide students through the process of getting into college—and succeeding once they’re here. I get to be a mentor, a coach, an advocate, and a guide. I’m a counselor, a cheerleader, and a sounding board. My goal is to make sure incoming Argosy students have a great experience throughout the enrollment process. I assist them with federal financial aid and answer whatever questions they have along the way. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll track it down.”

Cizmar is currently focused on advising and enrolling students in Argosy’s new Master of Law in Compliance program . It’s an online program designed to teach non-lawyer professionals to manage and minimize legal risk for employers and clients in the health care field. She says her job isn’t only to enroll new students, but to help ensure that those who are accepted to Argosy can be successful and persist to graduation.

Cizmar says she’s passionate about helping students take their next steps and knows the journey isn’t always easy. Many Argosy students return to college after years in the workforce. She says three obstacles often stand in the way of pursuing a degree: time, money, and fear.

“Two of those obstacles—time and finances—are legitimate,” says Cizmar. “I assist students with time management, applying for aid, and building their confidence. I think fear is often rooted in a lack of self-confidence, and my experience is that confidence can be developed and nurtured through preparation. Going to college can be challenging. If it weren’t, everyone would do it.”

Cizmar says she admires students who face their fears and do it anyway.

“As a mother of a special needs child, I know that life isn’t always easy,” she says. “That’s why I love the opportunity to encourage and empower students to take their best shot and go for it. I’ve worked with students who have never had their own email address, but who made the commitment to enroll for an online degree and trusted we would figure it out together. I work with students who are returning to college 30 years after graduating high school. That takes guts—and I admire it.”

“Many years ago, Theodore Roosevelt observed that ‘nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care,’” says Cizmar. “It’s really true. The trust and connection I develop with students is the foundation on which everything else is built. They know I care, and just having someone in their corner who believes in them can make all the difference.” ###

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Argosy University Alum Scott Tillema Negotiates His Way to Success


Scott Tillema’s career has been a master class in human behavior.

Even before earning his B.A. in Behavioral Science and Law from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2002, Tillema had completed an internship with the Madison police department and was on a career fast track.

“I’ve always been intrigued by what makes people tick, why they do what they do, and how different people respond in various situations,” says Tillema. “I think that curiosity—and the opportunity to serve others in the process—is what led to my interest in law enforcement.”

Just months after graduating, he landed a position with the Schaumburg (Illinois) Police Department and served as a patrol officer for nearly five years before deciding to take his career to the next level. He wanted to be a hostage negotiator, and he knew he’d need more education and training to get promoted.

“I thought about going back to school for two years before I actually did it,” recalls Tillema, who graduated from Argosy University, Sarasota in 2009 with his Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology. “I’d heard great things about Argosy, but the campus near my home in Illinois didn’t offer the masters program I wanted. After I met with an advisor, I realized I had options—including a blended course of study that combined online courses, classes at my local Argosy campus, and periodic visits to Argosy’s campus in Sarasota. For a single guy who was tired of Midwest winters, the idea of flying down to Florida for classes twice a semester was very appealing.”

Tillema says Argosy’s flexibility and blended class options were a key to his success.

“For someone who was working a job with unpredictable, inconsistent hours, flexibility was essential,” says Tillema. “That’s where the online classes came in. As much I prefer going to class and experiencing the face-to-face interaction with a professor and classmates, online classes made it possible for me to maintain my momentum as I worked toward my degree.”

As it turned out, just being enrolled in the Argosy master’s program provided Tillema the opportunity to achieve the career he wanted. Seven months into his studies, he was promoted to hostage negotiator, working with a regional SWAT team and the Schaumburg police department to diffuse hostage situations, suicide standoffs, and armed barricades. Tillema took classes year round and completed his degree within three years, all while working a demanding, high stress job.

“There was great synchronicity to the process,” Tillema explains. “There would be times when I’d study criminal profiling, for example, and realize I was applying that knowledge in real life just days later. The quality of instructors at Argosy was consistently strong. I really felt the people who taught me were invested in their students and really wanted to see us succeed.”

That connection with his instructors soon paid off in another way. Thanks in part to their recommendations; Tillema was invited to be an Adjunct Instructor at Argosy shortly after graduating. He taught criminal justice and psychology courses at Argosy’s Schaumburg campus for the next four years.

In 2014, Tillema was promoted to Sergeant, and now serves in Schaumburg’s Special Operations Division, focusing on prostitution, drugs, and street crimes. He’s currently developing a crisis communications and hostage negotiations class that he hopes to offer to other police agencies.

Last November, he was invited to speak at TEDxNaperville, billed as “a free-thinking conference that gathers the Chicago areas brightest minds together for a day-long exploration of ideas worth spreading.” Tillema’s topic: “The Secrets of Hostage Negotiators”.

“Talking one-on-one to a guy with a gun to his head is easier for me than speaking to audience of 750 people,” Tillema says. “I was pretty nervous, yet I was also aware of the irony that my topic was about communicating under pressure. Choking didn’t seem to be an option.”

Tillema told his audience that the strategies used by hostage negotiators can be successfully applied in everyday communication with a spouse, boss or coworker.

“Whether you’re trying to calm someone who is threatening suicide or trying to diffuse an uncomfortable situation with a co-worker, the basic principles of communication are the same and can be learned by anyone,” Tillema insists. “First, seek to understand. Learn what the other person wants. Also be aware of timing. You have to know when to talk and when to listen.”

Tillema says it’s essential to also be aware of your delivery.

“It’s not always what you say, but how you say it that matters,” he says. “It’s also important to never underestimate the power of respect. When you treat other people with dignity, you can often find common ground and achieve amazing results.”

Tillema, now married and the father of three, says that despite his years of experience in life-and-death negotiations, there are two people who successfully outmaneuver him in any conversation: his eldest children, ages 7 and 4.

“When it comes to getting what they want,” says Tillema, “they have a way of winning every time.”

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5 Simple Steps to Protect Your Home During the Holidays


When you think of the holidays, celebrations, presents and friends likely come to mind - not crime. Unfortunately, burglaries increase at this time of year, and your home could be a target. With a few simple home security tips, you can protect your property, your family and your valuables now and well into the New Year.

"Taking steps to protect your home during the holidays isn't radically different from what most people should be doing the rest of the year," says Thomas Leman, a retired 27-year veteran of the police force and criminal justice professor at Argosy University, Online Programs. "The problem is that most people get lured into a false sense of security and tend to let their guard down, thinking that crime won't happen to them."

Take safety precautions today to protect your home and learn how to deter burglars. Consider these five simple steps:

Step 1: Decorate with care

When it comes to holiday decorations, modesty is definitely the best policy, says Leman. "While you may love the look of a Christmas tree in your front window, expensive decorations on display can be a signal that there are valuables inside your home worth a criminal's time. Gifts under the tree are the most blatant of these displays and are a welcome invitation for thieves." Leaving gifts tucked away until the last possible minute is a quick and easy safety precaution. If you must display presents, make sure they are out of sight from any windows or doorways.

Step 2: Lock it up and look into Home Security Devices

Whether you are home, running errands or away on vacation, take care to close and lock all doors and windows. Remember to set alarms, too. "Given that most people have extra valuables and gifts in their homes during this time, it's a good idea to practice home safety whether you're there or not," says Leman. Leman adds that a simple dowel placed in a sliding glass door or window can be an inexpensive way to secure vulnerable entrance points. "Alarms or closed circuit video surveillance systems are a great and inexpensive way to protect your home," he adds.

Step 3: Light the night

A well-lit and well-groomed home provides an important measure of safety, and outside lights will help deter burglars. "The better the lighting in your home and yard, the fewer places there are for criminals to lurk," says Leman. USAA, a leading provider of banking, insurance and investment services to the military community, recommends the 3 foot/6 foot rule: trim branches to 6 feet off the ground and shrubs down to 3 feet to minimize hiding places for burglars.

Step 4: Dispose smartly

It’s best not to alert strangers to the new 70-inch flat screen in your home by leaving the box on the curb for refuse pickup. "When it comes to big-ticket items and valuables, boxes on the curb can be an advertisement for the new valuables in your home," cautions Leman. "Take the time to break down boxes and recycle them or put them on the curb over time and inconspicuously," he says.

Step 5: Be a tricky traveler

Be proactive about home safety if you have holiday travel plans. Never let mail or newspapers pile up at your home, as it is an instant indicator you are not there. Have a neighbor collect mail and newspapers or stop mail while you are on vacation by calling the post office and newspaper provider. "Set your lights and television on timers," suggests Leman, who also advises homeowners to have a neighbor park their car in your driveway intermittently to keep up the appearance that someone is coming and going. 

Interested in security, criminal justice, or forensics? Check out our programs here: 

Programs, credential levels, technology, and scheduling options vary by school and are subject to change. Not all online programs are available to residents of all U.S. states. Argosy University, 2233 West Dunlap Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85021 © 2016 Argosy University. All rights reserved.

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