This is a content holder for the one button emergency notification system.

Back On The Trail

Returning student logs in for classes from Los Angeles, where she is a city detective

Back in 1999 when Kristin Merrill was a senior, she made the decision to leave Bridgewater State to work full-time and save money before returning to finish her degree. However, she got sidetracked and moved to California to embark on what has become a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Police Department where she currently serves as a detective.

Despite her career success, she’s always had this nagging feeling about not completing her college degree.

 “It’s always bothered me that I didn’t finish,” she said. “I live a pretty regret-free life, but I just feel this is really important, to finish what you started.”

Now that she can take classes remotely, Merrill is back at BSU, motivated to earn her degree in communications and public relations.

The Middleboro native was a standout athlete for the Bears, playing softball, basketball and rugby. She admits her focus at the time was more about athletics than academics.

This time around, however, partially because of the work ethic she’s developed as a law enforcement officer, she’s much more serious about her studies.

“I always cared about school, but was distracted,” Merrill said. “But now, 20 years later, having the skills I’ve learned I have a different perspective.”

When Merrill left Bridgewater State 20 years ago, she initially took a job working at State Street Bank in Quincy. While working there, she learned from a friend that the LAPD was in Boston looking for recruits as part of a nationwide search.

Encouraged by her family and friends, Merrill made the life-changing decision to take the law enforcement entrance exam.

“The morning of the test I woke up and thought, am I really going to do this?” she said.

A friend convinced her to go, rationalizing they could catch a hockey game afterward, as the exam location was near the Boston Garden where the Bruins play.

A lifelong Boston sports fan, Merrill was not one to turn down the chance to see one of her favorite teams compete, and made it to the test.

Soon after, she received word that she had passed and was invited for an interview on the West Coast. After nailing the interview Merrill was offered a position with the LAPD.

“It all happened so fast,” she said.

In her 20 years on the job, Merrill has worked a variety of departments, including major assault crimes, missing persons and internal affairs. 

And while she has carved out a successful career and doesn’t necessarily need a degree for advancement, she’s determined to do what it takes to earn her BSU degree.

And while some of her colleagues have encouraged her to complete her degree at a local school like the University of Southern California or Long Beach State, Merrill believes that once a Bear always a Bear.

“I have a pride about my school, I don’t want to graduate from anywhere else, I want to graduate from my college,” she said.

Merrill has been happy with the support she’s received from her Bridgewater professors and is grateful for this opportunity.

And even though she isn’t technically on campus, every time Merrill logs into class, from some 3,000 miles away, a sense of nostalgia takes over.

“It feels like I’m going home. I feel like I’m home, with my family again,” she said.

Do you have a BSU story you'd like to share? Email