Success Stories, Doctor of Education

A degree in action: Trevecca doctoral students apply leadership training in law enforcement

Jonathan Flores

With more than 30 years of law enforcement experience, Texas natives Jonathan Flores and David Friedlein bring a unique perspective to their police departments.

With the help of leadership skills learned in Trevecca’s online doctoral program (Ed.D.) in leadership and professional practice, the two strive to put into practice what they’ve learned, becoming servant leaders who bring change to the workforce.

Friedlein, a police captain with the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office, found his way to Trevecca while attending another university for his undergraduate and graduate degrees. While completing his master’s, Friedlein began looking into doctoral programs and found that university didn’t offer any.

A professor recommended Trevecca, and Friedlein enrolled. Since joining Trevecca’s program, Friedlein says he’s already experienced growth, both personally and professionally.

“I was a sergeant when I started the program and have since moved up twice in promotion,” Friedlein said. “Trevecca has given me knowledge and leadership skills I’m using that are helping me personally as well as [in] our agency and community.”

The experience has also helped to open another door, Friedlein says. Each year, the FBI selects a few top law enforcement executives from across the nation to take part in the FBI’s National Academy. To be selected, participants must display leadership qualities and be nominated by their agency heads.

The 10-week program, which provides coursework in intelligence theory, terrorism, law, behavioral science, law enforcement communication and forensic science, is held each summer at the FBI’s training and research center in Quantico, Va.

Friedlein recently became the first person in his department in more than 20 years to be accepted. He spent much of the summer training with about 220 carefully selected law enforcement officers.

Flores found his way to Trevecca’s doctoral program in leadership and professional practice thanks to Friedlein. The two used to work together at the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office, where Flores worked as a homicide detective.

Now the police chief for the city of Alton, Texas, Flores is taking leadership skills he’s learning in class and implementing them in the field. As part of his dissertation, Flores is researching mental health among law enforcement personnel and seeking to mitigate the suicide rate among police officers. 

David Friedlein

In 2018, 167 police officers in the United States took their own lives, Flores says. The highest number of those suicides were among Texas law enforcement officers, Flores recounts, citing research compiled by Blue Help, an organization that tracks officer suicides.

Empowered by his research, Flores started a program to help officers deal with emotional stress from the job by providing access to counseling services for all first responders and their family members in Alton.

“[The department and I] teamed up with marketplace chaplains and acquired their services to provide counseling services 24/7 to employees and family members,” Flores said. “Having the tools Trevecca provides was paramount in getting this program started and gave us the foundation to get it into the workforce.”

Working in law enforcement, Friedlein and Flores share a passion for public service. Both men desire to make an impact on their community through their work and find ways to make their communities stronger. They say Trevecca’s Ed.D. program is equipping them to do just that.

That’s by design, according to Dr. Ryan Longnecker, program director for the online Ed.D. program. This doctoral program is designed for leaders in all professions, not just educators, he says.

“This program is a doctorate of action,” Longnecker says. “It’s for the person on the streets working with community members. It’s a degree [that involves] action, not just thinking.”

Learn more about Trevecca’s doctoral program in leadership and professional practice. 

About Trevecca Nazarene University

Trevecca Nazarene University is a Christian university in the heart of Nashville focused on preparing students for lives of leadership and service. Founded in 1901, Trevecca is committed to holistic education, encouraging students to grow intellectually, socially, emotionally, physically and spiritually. U.S. News & World Report ranked Trevecca as a national university in the annual “2019 America’s Guide to Colleges,” making the University the only Nazarene institution to receive the national ranking. In 2016, the Carnegie Foundation classified Trevecca as a doctoral university, ranking it among the top 7 percent of schools nationwide.

Located just one mile from thriving downtown Nashville, Trevecca offers classes at the main campus as well as two other locations across Tennessee and online classes offered worldwide. With students from 47 states and 25 countries, Trevecca offers 17 associate degrees, 80 undergraduate majors, 16 master’s programs, and three doctoral programs, as well as specialist and certificate programs.

By Blake Stewart, ’18
Media contact: Mandy Crow,, 615-248-1695