Sungea Dawson is an Adult Protective Service investigator who graduated from Seattle University School of Law’s Online MLS in Compliance and Risk Management program in December of 2021. Her job entails gathering information to investigate crimes against vulnerable adults, including allegations of neglect, abandonment, mental, and physical abuse, financial and personal exploitation, and more. It’s a lot of writing, looking into data systems, verifying claims, and interpreting research, all while ensuring she complies with the law. “Everything has to be done very carefully,” she said. Her MLS in Compliance and Risk Management from Seattle University School of Law certainly helped prepare her for the legal aspects of the job and was an integral element of her career trajectory. She credits the program with helping her develop strong legal writing expertise and an ability to grasp key details when interviewing. This has resulted in a higher salary.
Sungea lives in Seattle. Prior to going back to school, she spent over two decades in social services as a case manager but felt that she needed new skills to advance her career. As time went on, she became aware of Seattle U’s graduate programs through positive word of mouth. Many of her colleagues were choosing to both work and enroll in a graduate program, so she knew it could be done.
While searching for a program for herself, she was drawn to Seattle University School of Law’s Online MLS Program. As a mother and devoted partner needing to contribute financially for her family, she also couldn’t justify quitting her job to focus on studying full-time. The online format allowed her to continue working so she could pay the bills while allowing her to invest in her future aspirations.
The Online MLS in Compliance and Risk Management Program proved a great fit, especially since she’s always had an interest in working within law enforcement and regulatory systems. When she was younger, she even wanted to practice law. This program gave her the chance to revisit the dream of conducting investigations but with much less time spent in school. The healthcare law concentration also made sense, aligning with her experience in social services with vulnerable adults. After being accepted and even receiving a merit scholarship, it seemed that “Anything was possible at this point. Just don’t look away, just keep moving forward.”
Sungea initially struggled with internal self-doubt and other obstacles. She was raising her son but also taking care of her mother who became extremely ill and was hospitalized during Sungea’s finals. She became immensely overwhelmed. Her dean, however, worked around her needs and provided reassurance that she had the tools to be successful in the program; Sungea listened and took the encouragement to heart.
This depth of support was a hallmark of her time at Seattle University School of Law. Though the program was completely online, the rapport and connection of an in-person experience was present, so she never felt helpless, alone, or unsupported.
Sungea’s written skills improved exponentially thanks to courses like Legal Analysis, Research, and Written and Organizational Investigation. She enjoyed learning about new subjects and becoming more well-rounded through courses like cybersecurity. Now, she’s better prepared to cross that bridge when her cases demand it. One bonus the MLS in Compliance and Risk Management provides in her personal life? She’s now able to protect herself, and her friends, from flagrant online scams and identity fraud.
Balancing an individual’s rights and her own investigative duties is a fine line. She works with delicate topics like consent, permission, accessibility, confidentiality and sensitive information. The stakes are high, but now that she has firm knowledge of the intricacies of the laws, Sungea can confidently reassure her clients that they are in good hands. Overall, the degree helps provide a deeper understanding of the way laws and regulatory requirements influence entities from a non-lawyer perspective. She can now expertly gather information that makes or breaks an investigation; Her career has never been more fulfilling or secure.
Once you’ve decided to invest in yourself by pursuing an MLS degree, Sungea’s advice for prospective Seattle U Law students is simple – communication is key. If you’re struggling, confused, or overwhelmed, confide in your professors and faculty. They will step up and offer assistance to help you advance in the program and ultimately succeed.