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2008 Penn Hills grad preps for law-enforcement career

Patrick Varine
| Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, 2:07 p.m.
Andrew Holodnik is studying law enforcement with the goal of joining the U.S. Marshal Service. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Penn Hills Progress
Andrew Holodnik is studying law enforcement with the goal of joining the U.S. Marshal Service. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Andrew Holodnik didn't choose to go into a career in law enforcement. To hear him tell it, the career chose him.

“I am looking forward to helping my community, to assure them that there are individuals out there who are willing to do whatever it takes in order to maintain their safety in and out of the community,” said Holodnik, 22, who is on pace to graduate later this year from Penn State's New Kensington campus with a degree in administration of justice.

He is interning with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, and recently spent a day at U.S. District Court observing court proceedings, participating in discussion panels with members of the U.S. Marshal Service — for whom Holodnik wants to work once he graduates — and furthering his education.

Holodnik, a 2008 Penn Hills graduate, spoke with the Progress about his day at the courthouse and his aspirations to protect and serve:

Q: When did you realize that law enforcement was something you wanted to do as a career? Was there a particular event that helped solidify that decision for you?

A: I have always been interested in a career in law enforcement; growing up, most children have a moment when they play cops and robbers. I do not believe this is a career path that you choose, it chooses you. It is a call of duty that you respond to. You have a genuine want to help the people and community around you. I received that calling twice, once in high school and then again in college with the death of Penn Hills Officer Michael Crawshaw.

Q: Who were some of the people you spoke with during the U.S. District Court panel discussion?

A: We had a chance to speak to many members of the federal court system, from clerk staff all the way up to magistrate judges. It was nice because we all got a chance to see the different positions that make up the court system. Most people think about the judges, but they do not think about the people who are behind the scenes such as the probation and parole department, the finance department that receives the fines people pay, or the media department that helps people show evidence to prove whether or not they are guilty of those things.

Q: Two U.S. Deputy Marshals spoke at the panel discussion about the different subdivisions within the agency — is there one that appeals to you?

A: There are two divisions that really strike my attention. I have always been interested in their fugitive task force because I enjoy investigations and chasing after individuals who are a high risk to the community we live in. I was also introduced to their special-tactics department, much like the S.W.A.T. teams many police and other law-enforcement agencies have.

Q: What was the most important lesson you took away from your day at the U.S. District Court?

A: The most important lesson I took away was to focus my education. More and more agencies are changing their entrance qualifications to highlight higher academics. Focusing on your academics in college is big. While we want to have a good time, we also want to make sure that we do well on our grades. Agencies are looking into your academic career, degrees obtained, and GPA while in school. They also mention trying to stay away from trouble. Many qualified candidates apply and are turned down due to drugs and narcotics violations. Having a clean record betters your chances on getting into these positions.

Patrick Varine is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or

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