Nick Mueller

Nick Mueller

Nick Mueller taking his Rowan degree to American U and then into anti-terrorism field
Nick Mueller taking his Rowan degree to American U and then into anti-terrorism field

Nick Mueller has that look: 6’3”, imposing, solid, calm. The kind of guy who might be a State Police trooper or an Air Force colonel. The kind of guy who believes in service. The kind of guy who puts his hand over his heart when the Star-Spangled Banner plays.

Mueller, 22, is indeed that kid of guy, in his case one who plans to work in counterterrorism or a related field.

He’s on the right track.

American U
The Lacey Township resident will earn his degree in Law & Justice Studies from Rowan University in May and then head to American University in Washington, D.C.

There he plans to pursue a master’s of science in Justice, Law and Society with a concentration in Terrorism Studies and Security Policy, possibly also formally or informally studying Arabic.

“I’d like to do something that prevents terrorism from occurring,” said the 2007 graduate of Lacey Township High School. “Ever since 9/11, I’ve had this desire to never let something like that happen again in this country. In high school I was thinking about a military career.”

His Aunt Carmela was in a building close to Ground Zero, though not in immediate danger that day. Still, her situation and more had an impact on a then-12-year-old Mueller.

“I was coming home from school, seeing those images on TV. I just got goose bumps,” he recalled. “I’m not saying it was more significant for me. I’m just never going to forget those images.”

That day in large part directed his future path, and that path solidified in high school.

“I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do until I took a class in high school in criminology and ethics. The teacher was really great,” said Mueller, who noted 9/11 often was a subject of discussion.

Passion to protect
Then too, patriotism is big for Mueller.

He defines it as “A love for your country, a loyalty to it, a deep passion.”

“That’s what drives me, my passion to protect. We have a lot of opportunities in the United States that a lot of people take for granted. I don’t want to take them for granted. I want to give back to my family, this country,” said Mueller, whose brother, Kenny, 19, is in the Navy.

Mueller applied to the Coast Guard Academy and Rowan. “Even when I was here I was contemplating becoming a military officer,” said Mueller, whose grandfathers were both in the service. “I talked to a bunch of recruiters this fall. I think the best decision for me is to go to American and get my master’s and hopefully get hired by the State Department, any federal law enforcement agency that deals with counterterrorism.”

He doesn’t have a particular job in mind — he’s interested in being a special agent or analyst – but he’d like to be on a joint terrorism task force that involves federal agents and state and local police, pretty much anywhere in the country. “I know that I’m going to have to move around a lot,” he said.

Well prepared
Whatever his eventual position, Rowan has helped him prepare for it.

Mueller, who will graduate with a 3.9 GPA, was a member of the Thomas N. Bantivoglio Honors Concentration, taking a handful of honors courses. For one, he presented a project on the security arrangements for the historic 1967 meeting between President Lyndon Johnson and Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin at Rowan’s Hollybush Mansion.

He served as a resident assistant his sophomore and junior years and was vice president of Rowan’s chapter of Alpha Phi Sigma, the national criminal justice honor society. The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences presented him with the senior award for his major in March.

Mueller worked for the Seaside Heights Police Department as a special law enforcement officer during the summer of 2010, and he interned with the Drug Enforcement Administration from September 2010 until March.

“I am very grateful for the opportunities I’ve had,” Mueller said. When he was tempted to slack off, he’d remember how lucky he is to have so many options and think, “I’m really fortunate to have these opportunities. I shouldn’t waste them.”