For Outstanding Degree Honoree, Security A Priority

Criminal Justice graduate plans to make career of protecting and serving

Mark Feldmann,

May 18, 2023

Brennen Juarez

At MATC, the teachers are down-to-earth, caring and supportive. They have hands-on experience so they are able to teach students by example. Many of them answer questions by telling us what happened to them in the field. I’ll take that kind of experience over theory every time.

Brennen Juarez MATC Criminal Justice Graduate, Outstanding Degree Student

MILWAUKEE – Brennen Juarez learned to love protecting and serving in the boisterous nightspots of Milwaukee’s Water Street, where libations freely flow, bottles sometimes break, and tempers occasionally flare.

As a student at Marquette University, Juarez took a job working security at one of the many taverns on Water Street. From his spot as sentinel at the front door, he learned how a business operates, how managers function, and most importantly, he discovered his vocation.

“I wanted to be part of something that made people feel safe and secure,” said Juarez, who grew up in Berwyn, Illinois, a Chicago suburb. “I realized my goal was to serve my community the best way I could.”

After talking to a co-worker who was in the fire protection technician program at Milwaukee Area Technical College, Juarez left Marquette, transferred to MATC, enrolled in the criminal justice program, and thrived in the classroom and in the community.

He has a 4.0 GPA in his courses, belongs to the college’s Criminal Justice Student Organization (CJSO) and volunteers at the food pantry at MATC’s Oak Creek Campus and at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.

For his academic achievements, college involvement and community efforts, Juarez was chosen as the college’s Outstanding Associate Degree graduate for Spring 2023. He will deliver remarks at MATC’s Spring Commencement on May 21 at Fiserv Forum.

“He is very dedicated to achieving a career in law enforcement and is always looking for ways to improve as a student,” said Constance Prange, J.D., an MATC criminal justice instructor. “In one of my classes, Brennen was required to do a presentation. His presentation was one of the best I’ve seen in the 20 years teaching here. It was creative, intelligent, entertaining and extremely substantive to the topic.”

“Brennen can articulate his observations and thoughts in a respectful manner and listens and responds appropriately to the comments of others,” added Doug Braun, a protective services instructor and faculty advisor for the CJSO. “Brennen is an intelligent and thoughtful individual who has a strong desire to serve and improve the communities he is a part of.”

Juarez was born in Chicago, the only child of his parents, who immigrated from Mexico. He attended Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Illinois, where he played football and also swam competitively. After graduation, he attended Marquette to study business and compete on the college’s club swim team.

Working at Water Street establishments, including Trinity Three Irish Pubs, gave him practical experience in dealing with possible problems or trouble. “I’ve seen a lot of things from the front door,” he said.

One of those things was a shootout between Milwaukee police and a homicide suspect last September. Police shot and killed 47-year-old Ernest Blakney in the downtown bar district after a car chase.

“You find out that 90 percent of people will run the other direction if they hear gunshots,” Juarez said. “We need to protect the other 10 percent who don’t react or might just freeze up.”

Most MATC instructors faced similar situations, which made their lessons extremely valuable, Juarez said.

“At MATC, the teachers are down-to-earth, caring and supportive,” he said. “They have hands-on experience so they are able to teach students by example. Many of them answer questions by telling us what happened to them in the field. I’ll take that kind of experience over theory every time.”

After commencement, Juarez plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in criminology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, then enlist in the U.S. Navy. Eventually he’d like to serve as a police officer.

“The world is a little chaotic right now. I feel an obligation to serve. I feel it’s the right thing to do, it’s the moral thing to do,” he said. 

Learn more about MATC’s Criminal Justice Studies program

About MATC: Wisconsin’s largest technical college and one of the most diverse two-year institutions in the Midwest, Milwaukee Area Technical College is a key driver of southeastern Wisconsin’s economy and has provided innovative education in the region since 1912. More than 25,000 students per year attend the college’s four campuses and community-based sites or learn online. MATC offers affordable and accessible education and training opportunities that empower and transform lives in the community. The college offers more than 170 academic programs — many that prepare students for jobs immediately upon completion and others that provide transfer options leading to bachelor’s degrees with more than 40 four-year colleges and universities. Overwhelmingly, MATC graduates build careers and businesses in southeastern Wisconsin. The college is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.