FBI, Military, Social Work: 3 New Eastern Fellows
WILLIMANTIC, CT (10/30/2018) Three distinguished alumni from Eastern Connecticut State University were inducted into the Eastern Fellows Program on Oct 19. In addition to joining the ranks of the University's most successful alumni, Charlotte Braziel '80, Raymond Hill Jr. '83 and Shawn Meaike '95 returned to campus to meet with students and share career advice in a panel.
Braziel is a retired FBI agent who now leads an investigative consulting firm; Hill is a professor at the Air Force Institute of Technology with an extensive military background; and Meaike is a former social worker-turned-entrepreneur who leads the multi-million dollar organization Family First Life.
A public policy and government major at Eastern, Braziel served 26 years as a special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). She specialized in organized crime, domestic and foreign terrorism, and bank and healthcare fraud.
"My father saw an advertisement in the paper for the FBI, recruiting specifically women," reflected Braziel on her life three decades ago. "When he told me he thought I'd be a good candidate, I laughed and said I would never get in. His response was, 'Not with an attitude like that.' But after a two-and-a-half-year application process, I got hired as an agent in December 1987 and had the career of a lifetime."
Braziel continued, "As a young student at Eastern I never in my wildest dreams would have thought that I'd make it to the FBI. I didn't even know that women were FBI agents. The lesson I learned was to listen to people who have suggestions and encouragement for you. They may see talent in you that you don't see yourself."
In her current occupation as head of Braziel & Associates, LLC, Braziel advises defense attorneys as an investigative consultant. She also teaches courses in crime scene investigation and criminal justice ethics at St. Leo University in Florida.
"Because of what started at Eastern," concluded Braziel, "I went from being a wallflower to an FBI agent who teaches internationally."
Hill graduated from Eastern in 1983 with a degree in mathematics, went on to earn a Ph.D in industrial/systems engineering from The Ohio State University, and served as an active-duty lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force for 23 years. He continues to have a decorated career in the air force and academia.
Currently a professor of operations research at the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT), Hill conducts research to support the U.S. Air Force and Department of Defense, advises air force and army graduate students pursuing master's and doctoral degrees, and teaches graduate-level courses in statistics and mathematical modeling.
"When I started thinking about the type of professor I wanted to be, I thought back to Eastern," said Hill. "My professors' doors were never closed. I could go to any of their offices for help both academically and personally. I've adopted that same philosophy."
Hill has published nearly 90 peer-reviewed journal articles and more than 250 technical works. He has advised more than 150 graduate projects at the master's and doctorate levels, and been involved in another 125. His extensive research background led to his management of more than $7.9 million in research funding. He is the principal lead investigator for an eight-university research consortium, as well as an associate editor for six journals and co-editor for the Journal of Defense Analytics and Logistics.
In advising Eastern students, Hill said, "Make the best of your current situation, always keep an ear out for other opportunities and move to something new when it feels right."
Meaike graduated from Eastern with a degree in sociology/applied social relation in 1995 and then worked for the Department of Children and Families for 13 years as a social worker.
"My social work experience here was raw and real," he said. "We were challenged to speak and work with passion; it helped shape who I am today."
In 2013, Meaike launched Family First Life, a multi-million dollar independent marketing organization located in Uncasville, CT, that generated more than $10 million in sales in its first year. The company is a network of agencies represented by 6,000 licensed agents around the country that markets life insurance, retirement planning and investments. After five years of continuous growth, the company is posited to finish 2018 with over $175 million in paid life and annuity business and projected to reach more than $200 million in sales in 2019.
With an abiding desire to give back, Meaike launched the Family First Life Scholarship in 2014, which is aimed at helping students from New London County that have good academic standing as well as financial need. Meaike is also the founder of CT Affordable Waste. Since launching in August of 2018, the company is providing local Connecticut businesses, commercial business and residential homes with an easier and more affordable way of completing renovations.
The Eastern Fellows Program was established in the 2008-09 academic year to recognize and engage distinguished alumni in the life of the campus community. Including these three newest inductees, 32 Eastern alumni are in the program.
Written by Jolene
Eastern Connecticut State University is the state of Connecticut's public liberal arts university, serving more than 5,300 students annually at its Willimantic campus and satellite locations. In addition to attracting students from 163 of Connecticut's 169 towns, Eastern also draws students from 26 other states and 20 other countries. A residential campus offering 40 majors and 65 minors, Eastern offers students a strong liberal art foundation grounded in an array of applied learning opportunities. Ranked the 25th top public university in the North Region by U.S. News and World Report in its 2018 Best College ratings, Eastern has also been awarded 'Green Campus' status by the Princeton Review eight years in a row. For more information, visit www.easternct.edu.