Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

Sgt. Gardner excels, earns master’s degree

With another graduation at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville in the books, another member of the University of Tennessee Police Department has achieved a milestone in higher education.

Sgt. Gardner, who has been with UTPD for 13 years, earned her Master of Science in Management and Human Resources in the Spring ’23 commencement.

“It took me right at two years to finish the program,” said Sgt. Gardner. “That is all while juggling a family with two sets of twin boys under the age of four, along with my job at the police department.”

Sgt. Gardner is in the training unit at the department, and handles a variety of things, which include the field training officer schedules, coordinating in-service training, serving as a general department instructor, uniform needs, Tennessee Peace Officer Standards & Training (P.O.S.T.) Certifications, maintaining the fleet, as well as on-boarding new officers.

“My current role at the department is why I actually chose this route for my Masters,” said Sgt. Gardner. “It is very applicable to what I do when I deal with the on-boarding and training, as well as with the leadership and management roles.”

During her class time, Sgt. Gardner took a variety of courses focused on leadership.

“Some of the specific courses that were a big focus of the program were about being a better leader, and not just a supervisor for the people I work with daily,” said Sgt. Gardner. “So that was vital in continuing to build my career here at the department.”

When monthly in-service training rolls around, Sgt. Gardner also specializes in a variety of classes that she teaches in the department. A few of those are bias-based policing, child abuse & awareness, as well as frequently helps with the R.A.D. Program, which is the Rape Aggression Defense System classes.

“Seeing a member of our department who has aspirations of growing in a leadership role is what you love to see,” said University of Tennessee Police Chief Troy Lane. “Higher education, continued learning, and continued training is something we promote in our department, and Sgt. Gardner is a testament to that.”

“I think you should always invest in yourself, and this degree was something I had wanted to do for a while and the opportunity that UT has afforded me couldn’t be passed up,” said Sgt. Gardner. “I realized that life wasn’t going to get any easier, and only busier as time goes on, so I just set a goal, and with the help and support of my family, I achieved it.”

Sgt. Gardner also takes time to continuously encourage other members of the department to pursue their goals of higher education and will use her new degree to serve as an inspiration to others.

“The University of Tennessee has given me the tools to continue making the world of policing a better place and helping to teach and mold new and younger officers as the start with our department,” said Sgt. Gardner. “A message for any of those looking to continue their career, or start one at UTPD, is the officers and employees here certainly support you and push you to succeed.”

Even on Sgt. Gardner’s graduation day, members of her department showed up to cheer her on and show their support.

Congratulations Sgt. Gardner on your accomplishment.