Success Stories

Melo Goulbourne found what he was looking for and more at WCSU

Melo Goulbourne

Melo Goulbourne

Growing up in Waterbury, Melo Goulbourne would hear stories about the exciting life one could lead by working in law enforcement from his older brother’s father-in-law, Len Revoir, who was a police officer. “He shared all the cool stories,” Goulbourne recalled. “When I was younger, I always dreamt of being a professional athlete, but if that didn’t work out, I wanted to work in law enforcement because of the stories he told me.”

A 2016 graduate from Waterbury’s Crosby High School, Goulbourne was a two-sport athlete and wanted to play Div. III basketball and see a bit of the world outside of Connecticut, so despite being accepted to Western Connecticut State University, he spread his wings and went to Nichols College in Dudley, Massachusetts. “My family tried to set me up for success,” Goulbourne said. “My brother, Jerome Cunningham, told me I should go to WestConn because it was close by and affordable; and of course, he was right. When I got my first tuition bill at Nichols for $60,000, it really opened my eyes and I returned to Connecticut after just one semester.”

Back home in Waterbury, Goulbourne took classes at Naugatuck Valley Community College while figuring out his next move. His best friend, former Sacred Heart High School basketball player Legend Johnson, was a standout on the court at WestConn and convinced Goulbourne to come to campus for a day to look around. One day was all it took, and Goulbourne was hooked. “I was a criminal justice major when I started college, so of course I transferred my credits to WCSU to continue to study criminal justice,” he said. “I met Justice and Law Professor Terry Dwyer and he told me I had enough credits to pick up a minor and suggested Psychology, which was the beginning of the great advice I received from my professors at WestConn.”

As his senior year unfolded at WCSU, Goulbourne became concerned about two things: his on-campus experience had been severely impacted by the limitations imposed by Covid, and he was worried about finding a job. JLA Professor Dr. Kim Marino told him to enjoy his senior year and not stress about finding a job. In fact, she suggested a way for him to enjoy more time on campus while pursuing a master’s degree that would ultimately improve his chances of finding a good job.

“I enrolled in the Master of Science in Homeland Security program, and in fact, I was one of the first nine students to join the program,” Goulbourne said. “I also applied to many police departments in-state and out-of-state and ultimately was hired by the United States Department of Justice. The application process was long and arduous, but a federal job has been the perfect situation for me,” he said.

“Reflecting on my journey, I owe a debt of gratitude to WCSU and, in particular, Dr. Marino, who consistently believed in my potential,” Goulbourne said. “WCSU provided me not only with a solid academic foundation, but also the resilience and patience required to navigate the challenges of the law enforcement field.”

Goulbourne works as a senior officer specialist at the U.S. Dept. of Justice Federal Bureau of Prisons facility known as the FCI in Danbury. He’s been there since November 2023. “The path to this point wasn’t without its challenges,” he said. “I navigated through a rigorous application process, enduring long wait times, extensive background checks, and various hurdles. Yet, the difficulties pale in comparison to the rewards this field offers. As a federal law enforcement officer, I’ve become intimately familiar with the high-stakes nature of our work – from the stress of critical situations to the emotional toll it can take. The unpredictable hours, low staffing, and inherent risks are part of the daily reality, but the satisfaction of contributing to a greater cause is immeasurable.”

Goulbourne is excited about the advancement opportunities that lie ahead at the FCI and within the Department of Justice. He’ll walk in the May 2024 commencement ceremony and will officially graduate with his master’s degree after completing some summer courses. When he crosses the stage, he’ll be the first person in his family to obtain a graduate degree. “My siblings have bachelor’s degrees and I’m the youngest child,” he said. “I’ll be the first one with a master’s degree. I have achieved the success my mom hoped for, and she is so proud.”



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