Value-Added Funds Play Key Role in Advanced Criminology Work in St. Louis

(story by Tim Gallagher)

Sam Sexe is grateful for how Buena Vista University’s value-added funds are assisting him in his goal to become a medical examiner.

Sexe, a criminology and criminal justice and communications studies double major from Humboldt, spent May Term taking the advanced death investigation course at St. Louis University. The five-day instruction offers the latest practices to experienced death investigators, detectives, criminal investigators, and forensics teams.

“It’s a unique course only offered every two years,” says Sexe, who qualified for the course after having completed the basic death investigation course in 2021. “St. Louis University is the only place in the Midwest where one can get this instruction.”

Value-added funding provided by generous BVU benefactors provided Sexe with airfare, hotel remuneration, course registration fees, and food money.

“It’s amazing the assistance BVU has available for students who want to further their education in ways like this,” says Sexe, who plans to become a board-certified death investigator before he begins applying to be a medical examiner at some point.

BVU’s Criminology Club, under the director of Dr. Richard Riner, Assistant Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice and winner of this year’s George Wythe Award for excellence in teaching, alerted Sexe to the existence of BVU value-added funds prior to his completion of the 2021 course. That instruction, which was offered online due to safety protocols in the COVID-19 pandemic, was also paid for through value-added funds at BVU.

Sexe’s completion of the course allowed the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors to name Sexe as one of the county’s death investigators.

“I respond to scenes where people have died in Humboldt County,” he says. “I sometimes transport the body and make the determination of the death and arrange for an autopsy. I determine the manner and cause of death from a medical standpoint. I also deliver death notifications to the next of kin.”

Sexe, a resident assistant at BVU, works three jobs this summer. He’s an Advanced EMT who serves Humboldt County Memorial Hospital, Van Diest Medical Center in Webster City, and the Algona Emergency Medical Services. He’s also doing an internship for the Algona Police Department.

“I earned my EMT-Basic qualification as a junior in high school, following in my dad’s footsteps,” he says of his father who recently retired after a 34-year career as an EMT. “In working in a rural area where I’m from, I see first-hand the impact I can have. In many cases, I’m serving someone I know. I’m able to see the effect I can have on someone’s life. Plus, there is a national shortage of care providers in these positions, so I know I’m doing something to help.”

Getting the experience in St. Louis sets Sexe apart as he works to become a board-certified investigator.

“Having the simulator on campus in the Criminal Justice Center has also been a big benefit,” Sexe concludes. “Dr. Riner’s earlier career in law enforcement is a plus, and his door is always open, so you can talk through the academic concepts while getting his take on the real-world issues.”

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