Thomas Nelson Community College will welcome United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) investigator and former student Earl H. Saunders to the Hampton campus for From My Present to My Future: The Path to My Success. The lecture will be held Feb. 9 at 11 a.m. in Moore Hall's Espada Room and is presented by the Office of Student Life & Leadership.
Saunders, who started his academic career at Thomas Nelson in 1994, is an investigator with the Special Litigation Section for the USDOJ, Civil Rights Division. During his 16-year career with the USDOJ, Saunders has worked on several high-profile civil rights investigations, including Jena 6 and the Trayvon Martin case. He was the lead investigator on cases involving police departments in Baltimore, Cleveland and Ferguson, Mo. "I am confident that our section is changing the way police departments police communities across the nation. Our investigations hold police departments accountable for the policing services they provide to citizens. I am most proud of that fact," Saunders said.
The Newport News native credits Thomas Nelson for much of his success. The eldest of five children, Saunders was raised by a single mother in Newport News' East End. He dropped out of high school in the tenth grade and admits he was headed down the wrong path. "Once I decided to invest in myself and turn my life around, [Thomas Nelson] was the first institution that gave me a fighting chance," he said.
Saunders was accepted into the College's Police Science program and landed a job on campus. His experience at Thomas Nelson helped him realize his potential, introduced him to the idea of continuing his education at a four-year institution and exposed him to new career options. "For the first time in my life I believed in myself and in my ability to turn the negative things in my life into positive ones," Saunders said.
After getting his start at Thomas Nelson, Saunders relocated and earned an Associate of Science degree in Administration of Justice from Northern Virginia Community College. He also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Administration of Justice from George Mason University and a Master's Certificate in Computer Forensic Investigation from George Washington University. "[Thomas Nelson] gave me access to an opportunity to get a good education and get off the streets. I will always be grateful and indebted to [Thomas Nelson] for that opportunity."