Carl Lafata, Associate Professor, Law Enforcement

PhD | Faculty

Address: Morris Hall 109C
Phone: 507-389-1206


I was born and raised in the Metro Detroit area but moved around a lot after high school, so I don’t have any place I consider to be my actual hometown.

Schools Attended

  • Macomb Community College
  • Western Michigan University
  • Oklahoma City University

Things we can talk about

Anything you would like. I served in the US Army, and then as a peace officer in Michigan and California for nearly two decades. My bachelor’s and master’s degrees are in criminal justice and my doctorate is in sociology, so I would be happy to discuss anything related to criminal justice and the social sciences. I am also able to answer questions related to navigating the college environment, completing an undergraduate degree, and applying to graduate school. I can also answer pre-career questions from students looking to join the military or enter any facet of government service.

I am available for

E-mail and Zoom work best, but we can also chat on the phone if that is preferred. Also feel free to drop by my office in Morris Hall (109D Morris Hall) during my office hours, or let me know if there is a particular time you would like to meet. In short, just reach out and I will come up with a day and time that works for us both.

Why I want to be a Maverick Firsts Advocate

I believe it is vitally important for first-generation college students to have people with similar backgrounds they can rely upon to help guide them by offering understanding, advice, and encouragement. I was the first person in my family to earn a bachelor’s degree and the only one to earn any sort of graduate degree. I worked a lot of entry-level jobs growing up such as fast food, retail, and in an automotive assembly plant in Detroit. I realized that none of those jobs were fulfilling and I needed to get a college education in order to do something more. However, high schools in my area did not prepare students with backgrounds like mine for college or graduate school. The idea was to just get through high school so you could go to work in an automotive or some other factory.

As a result, education was never stressed in my family. I put very little effort into my studies and graduated near the bottom of my class of nearly 900 students. Nothing was set aside for my college, so I began my college career by attending community college while working at a hardware store and delivering pizza. I had to take a year of what was basically remedial course work to get the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in regular college-level coursework. I then completed a year and a half of regular coursework. I did well enough to earn an Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) scholarship. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. I earned a master’s in criminal justice administration while stationed in Oklahoma.

After leaving active duty, I became a Michigan State Police trooper. I saw some pretty awful things in my first few years and realized it would be therapeutic to know more about human behavior. I also wanted to have a second career option, so I enrolled in a doctoral program. The college environment was definitely a very confusing and unfamiliar world at first, especially graduate school. However, I was fortunate to have mentors who took the time to help point me in the right direction, offer advice and motivation, and let me know I could succeed if I put in the work. I am forever grateful to them for guiding me and encouraging me to have faith in myself, and I strive to repay their kindness today by doing the same for my students. Serving as a Maverick Firsts Advocate is another way I can give back.

Things I’m connected with that might be of interest to you

My areas of academic interest are related to sociology, social psychology, and criminology. I just published a textbook on human behavior for use in one of my courses. I am also currently working on a number of research projects exploring these and other related topic areas.

I am very much into physical fitness and enjoy weight training, cycling, mountain biking, running, and duathlons. Staying fit helped me be successful in my military and law enforcement careers, and has helped me maintain my physical and mental health. I am always interested in helping students find activities they enjoy that will keep them physically active now because it results in academic success and the formation long-term healthy habits.

Having grown up in the Detroit area (The Motor City!), I am also a “car guy.” I am very much into sports cars and can talk for hours about anything automotive.

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