Meet Alumnus Nick Picerno | Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Behavior M.A.,'11

Nick Picerno

"If I never stepped out of my comfort zone and tried graduate school, I wouldn’t be where I am today."

Nick Picerno, M.A. Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Behavior


  • Thanatology (C)


  • Psychology & Counseling

Can you give a quick bio/background?

I grew up in New Hampshire. I went to a prep school at Kimball Union Academy and Penn State for undergraduate studies.  I became a Montgomery County Police Officer in 2002, and spent my first few years as a uniformed officer.  I eventually became a Detective in the Homicide and Sex Crime Section, were I worked for 4 years.  I was promoted to Sergeant in 2013, and became supervisor of the Collision Reconstruction Unit in 2014. I was promoted to Lieutenant in 2017, and served as a Deputy Commander in the 5th District in Germantown.  Since November 2017, I have been the director of the Legal and Labor Relations Section for the department.  In my job, I help the department navigate employment and union issues. I also am the coordinator of the Departments Crisis Negotiation Team, often referred to as “Hostage Negotiators”.  

Academically, I started at Hood College in 2007 for my Masters in Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Behavior.  I also received a graduate certificate in Thanatology.  After Hood College, I went to the University of Baltimore School of Law and received a J.D. cum laude, in 2016. I’ve been admitted to the Maryland Bar since 2017.  In addition to my full time job, I own a solo-practice law firm in Gaithersburg.  

Personally, I have played and coached lacrosse for most of my life.  I also actively volunteer with a variety of different organizations including the Montgomery County Teen Court program and Comfort Cases.  I live in Montgomery County with my wife of 6 years and our dog Molly.

Why did you choose Hood College? How has it helped your career?

I owe a lot to my time at Hood College.  I wasn’t a great undergraduate student, but as I matured, I had a desire to go back to school and diversify my education.  I looked at Hood College, and it seemed like it was a great fit for me.  I came up to the school to interview and was given a chance to prove myself as a student.  It was the environment at Hood College, and my professors there, that really showed me that I could be a capable student if I applied myself.  I ended up doing really well academically, which gave me the confidence to try Law School.  If I never stepped out of my comfort zone and tried graduate school, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

So my Hood College experiences definitely helped my career.  Especially with my positions in Homicide and the Collision Reconstruction Unit, I was dealing with bereaved family members on an almost daily basis.  Having the formal education and training to build empathy and effectively communicate with these families was critical to my career success.

What did you enjoy about Hood College? Do you have a favorite memory?

There were many great aspects about my time at Hood College.  One of the hardest things about going back to school as a police officer is scheduling.  Hood College had a great schedule that worked perfectly for my professional life.  Also, the cost was affordable.  I have friends who had to go seriously in debt to afford graduate school, but Hood College was extremely reasonable.  I also had some great professors, and I enjoyed their classes for many different reasons.  Shannon Kundey, Ph.D.'s class was very challenging, but it pushed me and she was great about working with me to learn the material.  Terry Martin, Ph.D. and the late Dana Cable. Ph.D., who taught my Thanatology classes, were great about making a sad subject like death and bereavement a little less somber.

One day, I was in class and I met a student who was wearing a Hood Lacrosse shirt. We started talking and it turns out he was one of the coaches.  He introduced me to the rest of the coaching staff, and shortly thereafter I was a volunteer coach.  I was on the sidelines when Hood College won their very first lacrosse game ever, so that became a really positive Hood memory for me.

Any other information you would like to add?

 If anyone would like to contact me, I can be reached through my website at

Inspired to #GOFURTHER in your studies and career? Learn more about Hood College's Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Behavior and Thanatology graduate programs by clicking here.