Marlan "LO" Dixon '19

Marlan “LO” Dixon ’19 | BA Criminal Justice, PsychologyMarlan "LO" Dixon '19

From the south side of Chicago to Cedar Rapids’ Mound View neighborhood, Marlan “LO” Dixon persevered through adversity to quench his thirst for knowledge.

 “When I was little, in the neighborhood where I’m from, there’s a thing called ‘being on the porch,’” Dixon said. “When you’re ‘on the porch,’ your mother doesn’t let you off the front or the back from inside the house. You can’t leave her sight, basically.”

He quickly went from the porch, to being able to go across the street to his family members’ and friends’ houses. Exploring the different blocks, he was introduced to more people, which allowed him to connect with people even farther from his block.

“It became an adventure,” he said. “Even though it was a small area, it became an adventure.”

Dixon first graduated from college at 19 and learned the world was much bigger than his neighborhood. He then decided to continue his adventure in Iowa.

“It’s just a lot of people in bad situations, that’s making their environment bad,” Dixon said. “I understood that I didn’t want to grow up in that type of environment; I didn’t want to raise my children in that type of environment. So, I knew I had to do something to get out of there.”

After moving to Iowa, Dixon attended a local community college and graduated at age 28. The negativity in his neighborhood had first motivated him to pursue a higher education. Now, at age 31, his son and daughter are his biggest motivators.

“I wanted them to see that DaDa could actually do it,” Dixon said. “They were my motivation because they were beginning to start school—my daughter had started kindergarten and my son was in pre-school—so I was showing them this is what you have to get ready for.”

Still thirsty for more knowledge, Dixon spoke with a friend, Maurisa Clark ’19, who was in Mount Mercy’s criminal justice program. She told him about how easily credits from Kirkwood transferred to Mount Mercy.

Interested, Dixon spoke with Mount Mercy’s psychology and criminal justice faculty members, and learned his credits would transfer easily. As a result, Dixon finished his bachelor’s degree in just one year with double majors in criminal justice and psychology.

Dixon’s childhood helped shape his career path. As a young child, Dixon wanted to understand more about the law.

“My Daddy was incarcerated, and when the police came and got him, I didn’t understand. I wanted to know who are these people and where are they taking my Daddy to? So that intrigued me at a young age to try to figure out and understand what is the law. I’ve been researching law since I was a little kid and that started the criminal justice path.”

Psychology intrigued Dixon when he found out it was a study of the mind.

Dixon said he thought, “People keep saying I’m smart, but your mind is inside your brain, so if I understood psychology maybe I could understand myself more,” thus creating his love of psychology.

While going through his studies, faculty suggested Dixon go to Mount Mercy’s Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) so that he could work on deepening his writing in order to better understand concepts.

“I have to thank, the one, the only, I call him the guru of writing, Ben (Thiel) in the ACE center,” Dixon said. “In grammar, you’re not supposed to write in run-on sentences. However, the law is written in run-on sentences.”

Dixon explained that changing how he writes changes how he interprets the law. Thiel understood and helped him develop his writing further. Dixon’s professors also supported him through his Mount Mercy experience by being open to questions, even outside their office hours.

At the Honors Convocation held in May 2019, Dixon received the psychology student award. Honors Convocation is a celebration of excellent scholarly work done by MMU students. One student from each department is selected based on their work for that department’s award.

Currently, Dixon is in Mount Mercy’s master’s in criminal justice program. Keeping busy as always, Dixon has two projects outside of his schooling. He’s looking for a publisher for his first book, The Mercy Papers, and recently developed a logo reminding people to look objectively.

“Prosper through adversity. Every day is not going to be a good day, but you can make it a good day,” Dixon said.

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