As a college student, Sarah Maffei ’14 had no idea what she would end up doing after graduation.
“I just wanted to find something I was passionate about, but I never thought I would be a part of the K9 world,” she said. “Now that I’m here, I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Four years after graduating from the Criminal Justice program at Thomas College, Sarah is now the Program Manager, Trainer, and K9 Handler for Merrill’s Detector Dog Services.
Sarah is responsible for training with the lead trainer, handling jobs throughout the United States, and overseeing aspects of scheduling with clients in Maine and New England, as well as writing and submitting government/business proposals to new or future clients.
“I love the challenge of working with different dogs, and I love working with my team,” said Sarah. “We get to bounce different ideas off each other, and it’s always satisfying when a dog clicks and finally understands what we are doing.”
Sarah also loves being able to work with her black lab Phiona.
“Training and working with Phiona over the years has definitely been life changing in the best way possible!”
Sarah first found Thomas when she was looking for a place to transfer to. She had attended an out-of-state school for a while and was looking for a college with a small-town feel.
Thomas was close to home, had a great Criminal Justice program, and once she began classes, she knew Thomas College was the place for her.
Sarah said Thomas College prepared her for her career through the flexible, hands-on experience.
“The professors allowed me to take my classes that were on specific topics and focus them on what I was interested in doing research about, such as K9 law,” she said. “I also got to do an internship with Merrill’s Detector Dog Services through Thomas, which really opened up the opportunities I have now.”
Sarah’s advice to future and current Thomas students is to stick with what you love, even if it’s not the norm.
“A K9 internship wasn’t normal for Criminal Justice students when I was there; most people decided to go to the Academy, but I didn’t want to. So, I thought outside of the box and found the opportunity to do something I wanted to do instead of conforming to the normal route.”
Now, several Thomas College students have interned with Sarah and Merrill’s Detector Dog Services. Some have even been hired, like Joanna Murch ’17. Sarah says it’s been great to work with fellow Thomas College alumni.
“We all share the same work values we learned from Thomas. We can look back to talk about our experiences, how they differ, but also how Thomas molded us to be young professionals,” said Sarah. “It’s allowed us to work better as a team and really understand each other’s thought processes, because we have all learned the same things and can apply them to real life experiences together.”