by Rachael Owen '23
GLASSBORO, NJ - In 1994, Carrie Rathof had completed her associate’s degree at Broward Community College in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. She moved to New Jersey to attend Rowan University and compete for the swim team. This would be the beginning of her love for Rowan University and it continues to this day.
Rathof had known Rowan’s swimming & diving coach at the time, Tony Lisa, ever since she was young. “[I] lived in Florida at the time and how I got to know Tony Lisa when I would come up [to New Jersey] to visit my grandparents, who lived very close by,” says Rathof. “I would go, and I would swim with Tony’s college kids, so I could keep in shape while I was up here.”
To say that Rathof enjoyed being a swimmer was an understatement. Being a competitive swimmer from when she was 12 years old to when she graduated from the University in 1997, she has always loved swimming and has had a passion for it since she was young.
“I was one of those children that was never afraid of water,” says Rathof. “I would jump into the pool, like two or three years old and scare my parents half to death. I would be like, I’m okay!”
Rathof had attended Broward Community College as the result of getting an athletic scholarship from its swim team. She eventually had to transfer to another college in order to continue her education and collegiate athletic career as a swimmer. With this, Rathof relied on Coach Lisa to help her make an easy transition to Rowan.
“I called up Tony Lisa and was like ‘Hey Tony! You know, I need somewhere to go.’ He was like ‘Well, you better come up here right now cause you’re swimming with me!’,” says Rathof. “It actually worked out because I was having some medical issues with my mom and my grandma and my grandparents lived in Ewan, NJ, and my mom had to move up here because of circumstances.”
Reflecting on her time working with Coach Lisa, Rathof notes how the experience made a tremendous impact on her. “Tony Lisa was one of the most amazing coaches I’ve ever experienced. He was like a father to me and the great thing about Tony was that he did a lot of research on how to train,” says Rathof. “He would mix up the training for us and made it so much fun and enjoyable to go to practices.”
Likewise, she had nothing but praise to say about her experience as a member of the Rowan swimming & diving team. “I just loved the competitions with [the] girls and it was just team camaraderie and collaboration,” says Rathof. “Like, I miss it so much because I did it for so long.”
At Rowan, Rathof, who competed in a variety of strokes, had an excellent swimming career. She helped lead the swim team to New Jersey Athletic Conference titles in 1996 and 1995. At the 1996 NCAA Championships, Rathof earned All-American honors on the fourth place 200 medley relay (1:50.28), fifth place 200 freestyle relay (1:39.28), sixth place 400 medley relay (4:00.36) and eight place 400 freestyle relay (3:39.07). Rathof also held two school records in the 800 freestyle relay and 400 medley relay for 21 years.
Meanwhile, Rathof tried to figure out what she wanted to do for her future career as she initially came to Rowan undecided.
“I was going to go into nursing but when I transferred up here to Rowan, they didn’t have a nursing program,” says Rathof. “So, I was undecided in what I was going to be and everybody was like ‘Well, if you play a sport for Rowan, you got to go into Health & Exercise Science and be a PE (physical education) teacher!’. So, that’s what I did.”
Rathof graduated from the University in 1997 with her Bachelors of Science degree in Health & Exercise Science. After graduation, she still found herself at a crossroads of what she wanted to do for a career that provided benefits. A close friend from Public Safety, Debbie Shoemaker, guided her path to her current career with Rowan Public Safety by telling her of potential openings within the department.
Starting out as a part-time guard in February 1998, Rathof quickly advanced into a full-time security officer position the following May. In the midst of her starting career at Rowan Public Safety, Rathof was also focused on completing her student teaching as well as finding a school to work for as a health & physical education teacher.
Rathof recounted the moment where she decided to make the switch and focus her career on Public Safety. “Then in 2002, they had only three police officers for Rowan Public Safety and they were looking to expand the department,” says Rathof. “So, I took the test, did the interview, and I got hired and started training at the Academy in 2003.”
Rathof started her training at the Gloucester County Police Academy in Sewell, NJ, in March 2003. At the Academy, Rathof underwent intense training which she ultimately believes has benefitted her as an officer. She later graduated from the Academy in July 2003 as a member of the Basic Class #24 and even received the Firearms Award. Rathof was the first police academy graduate sponsored by the Rowan University police department.
After graduation from the Academy, she continued working as a police officer for the department until she was promoted to sergeant in 2007, her current position. As part of her responsibilities for being a Sergeant, Rathof assists in overseeing officers in the department and works within the Rowan community to address any concerns members may have. In addition, Rathof is also an instructor for the Rape Aggression Defense System (RAD) class at Rowan, which has been highlighted in The Whit, the University student campus newspaper, in April 2019.
One of the highlights of Rathof’s career has been working with her canine dog, Tito, from the time she was promoted to sergeant within the department until Tito’s retirement in December 2020. “I think the most accomplished thing in my career is my dog and the things we accomplished,” says Rathof. “The 12.5 years of my career has been working with my dog.”
Another interesting perspective that Rathof recalls during her tenure with Rowan Public Safety, she sees herself as a mother to the students she works for in the Rowan community. Recognizing that college is where you “grow up”, Rathof feels that she is in a position to help students during their college journey.
“With college students nowadays and 22 and a half years into it, I feel like I’m their mom, which is fine because everyone needs guidance and we were all college students at one point,” says Rathof.
During her 20+ years at Rowan University, Rathof has made a tremendous impact on the University community, both as a student-athlete and as a professional working Public Safety. Yet, when Rathof reflects on her career path and what advice she could give to her younger self: she wouldn’t change a single thing.
“I don’t regret how I did it. How I would do it again. I believe I would do it all over again the way I did,” says Rathof. “I believe I was very successful and I did the best that I could and that’s all that anybody can ask for.”
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