Adult Students Take Dreams of Academic Success and Manifest them into Reality

The first in his immediate family with a college education, Ndiva Malafa (’19 / ’21) was born the son of a Nigerian immigrant. He reveres his father for the selfless sacrifices he made in the pursuit of a better life. Raised by his intelligent and hard-working parents, Ndiva was always encouraged to believe anything is possible and exemplifies what many refer to as the “American Dream.” Though his parents didn’t go to college, they believed education was an integral facet of success.

A Reflection of Himself

As a young child growing up in Madison, Ndiva loved to play the age-old game of “cops and robbers” and he dreamed of becoming a police officer. But until he met Tracey Williams, Ndiva held this close – as just – a dream. Ndiva met Williams through an organization called, “Urban League of Greater Madison (ULGM)” who’s mission is to ensure that African Americans and other community members are educated, employed and empowered to live well, advance professionally, and contribute to the common good in the 21st Century.

Williams, a passionate advocate for equality and social justice, is living proof that one person can make a big difference. She learned that Ndiva was interested in law enforcement and arranged for him to meet Madison Chief of Police, Noble Wray. This experience was a pivotal turning point. Ndiva marveled at the large administrative building as he walked into it that day, but found himself most awestruck at meeting Chief Wray. As Madison’s top cop between 2004 – 2013, Chief Wray was initially hired in 1984 as a police officer, climbed the ranks, and became the first African American to hold a management role within the Madison Police Department.

Ndiva could see a reflection of himself in Chief Wray. He had always dreamed that one day he would wear a police uniform, but on this day, Ndiva was infused with hope and the belief that it was possible. That memory of Chief Wray, a successful African American leader, wearing his uniform lined with metals of accomplishment gave a young teenager inspiration that he still draws on to this day.

Success is a Combination of Preparation and Luck

The Malafa family moved to the Milwaukee area in Ndiva’s senior year of high school. After high school graduation, Ndiva started working at Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) as a Police Aide. He went to Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) and put himself through the police academy. After a couple years with MPD, he achieved his first career goal with a promotion to Police Officer. As a forward-thinker, Ndiva continued dreaming and with that, began to envision new goals.

The simple, yet perceptive, advice offered by his father is, “If you have aspirations to advance your career, put yourself in an advantageous position and the pieces will fall into place.” Ndiva started by researching the steps others took to achieve success at MPD and quickly found a common denominator – all had, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree. His research then turned to the best university to effectually impact his future goals, and he found Marian University. The online criminal justice program was conducive for him as a working adult, and the generous credit transfer process allowed him to graduate in a timely manner. Recalling how he grew in his ability to think critically, Ndiva found, “The prism by which I viewed my profession shifted, allowing for a well-rounded perspective.” Marian’s professors were imperative in molding him academically, professionally, and personally. Ndiva felt profoundly influenced in learning from Professor Alan Johnson. Of his time in Professor Johnson’s classroom, Ndiva recounts, “His consistent, encouraging and applicable teaching style made the learning process simplistic and geared towards adult learning. Professor Johnsons’ life experiences as an executive leader within a metropolitan law enforcement agency only strengthened his ability to teach professional-level curriculum with real-world applicability.”

After graduation, Ndiva took a semester off but already had ambitions to pursue his Master’s degree and enrolled in Marian’s online Masters of Science in Public Safety Management program. He found each class an infusion of real-world applicability and curriculum, and that combination made for an intriguing learning experience. Graduating this past December, Ndiva is one of the program’s first students and graduates. With practical knowledge and invaluable educational tools, Ndiva feels prepared for future leadership within his organization and life. As he crossed off another achievement on his road map of strategic life goals, Ndiva attributes his success to the sacrifice and support of his wife, and life partner, who shares in his dreams and continues to light their path to greatness, the sage advice of his father, some good old fashioned “luck,” and the grace of God.

The Badge and Beyond

Believing in the power of education, Ndiva has added a new title of Adjunct Professor and is teaching the Introduction to Criminal Justice class – at Marian University! He is elated to be bringing the last decade of professional and academic experiences into a familiar classroom setting where he is now educating, leading, and inspiring the passion in others. He is grateful to partner with Marian University, a place where his dreams were converted to reality.

After nearly ten years with MPD, Ndiva spends his time on the street combating violent crime with the Special Investigation Division (Violent Crime Reduction Unit). He considers himself an avid student of his profession and believes in being an agent of change within the community he serves. Illuminating the importance of public service, Ndiva believes, “There is no higher calling than that of being the one whom the community entrusts in their time of need. Being a law enforcement officer epitomizes the thin line woven between the inter fabrics of contrasting binary forces and thus mends our democracy. There is no greater sacrifice than selfless public service.”

When reflecting on all he has accomplished, Ndiva’s greatest achievements aren’t found in a classroom, framed certificate, or professional advancement. While filled with gratitude for these opportunities and the success he’s had, his family comes first and is the foundation from where he gains his strength. Being a devoted husband to his wife and raising his children with love is his highest calling.

Marian University’s Master of Science in Public Safety Management empowers leaders in public safety with the knowledge and tools to succeed in mindful leadership within their communities. The hands-on curriculum combined with online convenience allows current professionals to advance their career and perform their jobs more effectively with a high-quality, convenient program. Visit our website to learn more.