The Charger Blog

M.S. Investigations Alum: ‘With this Education, I’ve Given Myself a Variety of Choices’

For U.S. Air Force veteran Nicole Bradley ’22 M.S., becoming a Charger was something she’d wanted to do since graduating from high school. Her coursework has further inspired her to want to work to protect kids, as well as to begin pursuing her first of two investigations certificates.

January 9, 2023

By Jackie Hennessey, Contributing Writer

Nicole Bradley ’22 M.S. at Commencement.
Nicole Bradley ’22 M.S. at Commencement.

Nicole Bradley ’22 M.S. was so taken with her studies in the University’s online M.S. in Investigations program, with a concentration in financial crimes, that after graduating in May 2022, she decided to keep going. She’s now pursuing a graduate certificate in sports integrity investigation. After that, her focus will be on attaining certification in financial crimes investigation.

It’s been an incredibly busy time. Bradley and her husband have three young sons, including one who has autism. She sticks to a tight schedule, completing her work while her sons are in school, and “staying very disciplined to get everything finished.”

Still, she is savoring being part of the University of New Haven community. “I always wanted to be a Charger – since 2000 when I got out of high school,” Bradley says. “I saw the crime shows. I always looked up to Dr. Henry Lee. I wondered how forensics worked, how investigations worked. I wanted to know what goes on behind the scenes. I’ve always asked questions, and I have always been inquisitive.”

Her route to becoming a University of New Haven graduate student took nearly two decades. She spent 13 years in the U.S. Air Force in information technology, on active duty for more than eight of those years. After leaving the service, she worked as a therapeutic support specialist, providing counseling and support to those who were struggling, including one young woman who was a survivor of human trafficking.

“I saw the damage it did to her and, I thought, 'if I could help another survivor, that’s what I want to do,'” Bradley says.

‘I’ve learned so much’

She was drawn to the University’s online M.S. Investigations program because all the faculty members have worked in the field.

“They bring years and years of experience into the classroom,” she says. “I knew that’s who I wanted to learn from.”

She points to a course in financial crimes that she took with Prof. Kelly Walsh, a former Avon Police Department lieutenant. Prof. Walsh supervised the detective division and was part of the F.B.I. Computer Crimes Task Force in New Haven, where she worked on child exploitation investigations.

“Some of the books we read and the discussions we had were mind blowing,” Bradley says. “It made me want to find every way I can to protect my own kids – and all kids.”

She was inspired, too, by Dr. Declan Hill who showed students the breadth and depth of corruption in sports. “He’s filled with so much knowledge about sports integrity, international sports and corruption, and doping and bribery. I’ve learned so much.”

‘I want to be a voice’

The University’s online M.S. in Investigations program was a great fit for her for other reasons, including its longstanding reputation for supporting veterans. Bradley says that became very apparent when she was accepted into the program. Instead of waiting for an acceptance letter, she says she received a phone call from John Casarella. Ph.D., of the University’s Military and Veteran Services Team, welcoming her to the University.

“When I first started, he made sure I was able to get all my veteran's benefits, all my books and supplies for the current semester,” Bradley says.

When Bradley pictures the career she’ll have when she finishes her last certification program next year, she envisions herself in a nonprofit organization working with survivors of human trafficking, in the field of sports investigation, or in the financial crimes division of a federal agency. Each area interests her greatly. “If you want to stop most crimes from happening, you have to trace where the money goes,” she says. “With this education, I’ve given myself a variety of choices. I can choose to go into one field and freelance in another.

“As the mother of an autistic child, I’ve learned a lot about being an advocate,” she continues. “Kids are innocent, and I want to be a voice for them. That’s my calling.”