Marcel Bowser in front of fall colors
Marcel Bowser sees the whole board. At 20, he is the Washington County Sheriff's Department's youngest dispatcher.

A Winning Advantage: Marcel Bowser

When Washington County residents pick up the phone to report trespassers or stray dogs, the calm voice at the end of the line might be Marcel Bowser. Still making his opening moves, the strategic student will finish his Associate in Applied Science in Criminal Justice in May, plans to enroll in the basic law enforcement training program at BCCC, and currently works as the Washington County Sheriff’s Department’s youngest dispatcher ever.

Bowser grew up in a law enforcement family. His father, who takes him running and shooting to prepare him for training, was a deputy with the Washington County Sheriff’s Department. Bowser hopes to start as a deputy after completing law enforcement training. For his middlegame, he plans to attend East Carolina University for biology or another science.

“Growing up, I got my first telescope when I was five,” recounts Bowser. “Ever since then, it’s progressed from there,” he said, referring to his love of science.

He appreciates the organization and respect he sees in his classes at the college. His move to BCCC before he jumps to ECU also helped him to save money and get more attention from faculty. Bowser has also actively engaged in student life at BCCC. A former part of the Student Government Association, he now serves as the president of the Chess Club.

“We like to play around at first, to get a sense of our different play styles,” he said. “For example, I’m more of a defensive player, while my friend Tyler, he’s offensive. We balance each other out. I will give him advice on how to play more defensively, and he will do the same for me.”

In an era when most game-play happens on phones and monitors, Bowser was approached by Chess Club advisor Ben Deck after Deck saw him playing in the College Grill. It was Bowser’s grandfather who introduced him to chess. The student is also a fixture at the pool table in the student lounge, where he stays long after his classes are over.

“I think chess has helped me to think more outside the box when it comes to solving problems,” he said. This comes in handy at his dispatcher job in Washington County.

“My biggest fear was getting everything wrong, but you get the hang of it,” he said. “You learn something new every day.” Most of the 20 calls he receives per night, he found out, are about stray animals, making the job a little more relaxed than he expected. Being relaxed also helps him deal with stressed callers.

“I learned on my very first day that you have to have patience with people. Someone will call, and they’ll be so distressed that you can’t understand anything they’re saying. One of the strategies they taught us is to pick out the keywords of what they’re saying.”

It being a small town, he occasionally finds friends or family on the other end of the line. “I may through a quick ‘he’ in there, but I still keep it professional, because there’s still a situation going on. My job as a dispatcher is to get someone out there as soon as possible.”

Bowser’s positional play has helped him to see both sides. He has participated in a ride-along, which exposed him to situations he had only heard about over the phone. “You spend a lot of your time on duty that the people you work with become your second family. I do worry about them.”

While his endgame is not yet in sight, he is clearly someone who thinks ahead, sees the entire board and will soon have his goals accomplished.

Students can join Chess Club in the Building 9 lobby at noon on Mondays and Thursdays.