Alumnus and Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales '92 stressed the importance of leadership and mentoring the next generation in sharing his Carroll and life experiences with the Class of 2019 as its commencement keynote speaker on May 11.
In a Q-and-A interview with the Office of Alumni Engagement, Morales followed up on his message for this year’s graduates and expanded with more thoughts on the value of his Carroll education. He has worked with the Milwaukee Police Department since being appointed in 1993, steadily working his way up through the agency’s ranks. He became police chief on April 5, 2018. Carroll presented Morales with an honorary doctorate during the ceremony.
When you think back to your days as a graduating senior, what lesson did you take with you when you left Carroll that helped guide you down the career path you chose?
I left Carroll with an appreciation for seeking the truth. To me that meant to ask questions and stay engaged, in other words, never stop learning. At the time I would enter a profession that I knew required substantial training from the outset and continuing education afterwards, particularly as it relates to advancement. Graduation marked the end of my time at Carroll but not of my education.
You mentioned in your speech that your Carroll education would be the foundation to help support you as you took on the role as police chief for the City of Milwaukee. What qualities did you learn at Carroll that assist you in living and working today?
I was interested in why people make the decisions they do. That drew me to Dr. David Simpson’s work with social psychology. At the time he understood me more than I did, he helped me to identify strengths and weaknesses. That direction set the foundation for my career.
Of the ideas you shared with graduates regarding L-D-R-S-H-I-P (Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, Personal Courage), which one, maybe more than others, helps to guide you in serving the community and why?
Selfless Service, it is the attribute that allows you to make the greatest impact and requires each of the other attributes to make it come to fruition. I visualize LDRSHIP as an arch and the selfless service as the keystone, dependent on, but holding together all of the other attributes.
What do you know now that you wish you might have known about life and learning as you graduated from Carroll?
An exam answer key would have been helpful at times. Seriously, at the time I graduated I don’t think I could have imagined the richness of experiences I would have because of my education. You realize how empowering education is when you look back and see how it opened the door to so many opportunities.
You shared with students that after growing through the ranks of the police department, you are obligated to teach the next generation of leaders. Looking at the faces for the Class of 2019 from where some of those leaders will emerge, what is the most important message you hoped to share with them?
Never stop learning. Use your Carroll education as the foundation for the rest of your lives.
You highlight the role that Dr. David Simpson played in your life as a mentor. What impact did he have on your life and what was it like for you to be the keynote speaker at his last Commencement as he retires?
I recall Dr. Simpson was always available if I had a question or needed to talk about something. He demonstrated selfless service by going above and beyond in cultivating our relationship. I don’t think that without the time he spent getting to know me he could have made the connection between my interest in what makes people tick and helping people. In doing so he steered me to major in criminal justice and the path I am on now. It was an honor to recognize his contribution at his last commencement. I really do believe that he is emblematic of the entire Carroll faculty and what they do in service to the students.
In your keynote speech, you tell the Class of 2019 that success comes with a debt, and that debt is to be a leader to the next generation. How have you worked to repay your “debt”?
Personally, I’m compelled to make the same sacrifices for my children that my parents made for me. I have enjoyed coaching football and volunteer when possible. Professionally, the Department emphasizes officer wellness and the importance of continuing education. We strive to create a culture of support and growth. In the community we create and sustain relationships with people of diverse backgrounds. We recognize that we are not effective unless we have the support of our community partners.