Discipline, dedication, and a whole lot of hard work goes into being the best of the best, and a pair of South Texas College Starr County students proved they have the right stuff last fall when they overcame a grueling four-day, 10-team competition in the sweltering New Mexico heat to win the Border Patrol Explorers competition held in Artesia.
The competition included real world law enforcement training skills such as obstacle course driving, marksmanship, and simulations.
“It’s a big honor, of course. It’s a real good feeling,” said STC Criminal Justice major Rubén Cantú. “The whole week you go through different training and it’s pretty hard, the weather is way different, it slows you down a lot, so that alone is a big challenge. At the end, to come out best of the best, it’s exciting and a great feeling.”
“It was a really big honor being the top of the top of the nation. It was a big eye opener” added STC welding student Michael García. “I’ve gotten a lot more discipline through the program and a better perspective about law enforcement because we are trained on all law enforcement, not just Border Patrol.”
Cantú, 19, and García, 20, belong to the Rio Grande City Border Patrol Explorer Post No. 735 and participated in the national competition alongside fellow members Glenda Araiza and Roel Villarreal.
“It’s a big eye opener because you get to see what it’s like at a Border Patrol Academy,” said Cantú. “You get a lot of years of training through this program.”
The Border Patrol Explorer Program works with the college and is for young adults aged 14 to 21 years old. However, the application process is the easy part. All potential members go through a rigorous background check and a full interview process in order to be accepted into the program. Recently, the RGC post received 139 applications, but Cantú and García said that only about 10 will make it.
“They show you what to do in various situations and it’s a lot of action, I love the program. It teaches you a lot of discipline,” explained García. “Whatever the military goes through, we go through. We have a PT program and it’s tough. It definitely separates the men from the boys.”
García joined the program when he was 14 and Cantú has been a member for three and a half years.
“Before I joined the program, I didn’t know what exactly it was that I wanted to do,” said Cantú. “I decided to try it out and I started seeing what it was that officers go through, and I liked it. You get to see the good and bad sides of law enforcement, and it helps you see if it’s for you. It’s a very different experience.”