STC empowers aspiring law enforcement professionals, graduates
In a special ceremony, sixteen graduates from South Texas College’s Police Academy, were honored as they received their peace officer certificate.
In a special ceremony, 16 graduates from South Texas College’s Police Academy were honored as they received their peace officer certificate after completing the year-long training program. Among them, three outstanding cadets who took a newly-traveled path toward their goals.
"As you step into your roles as peace officers, always carry the profound purpose of wearing that uniform and placing the badge over your heart - to protect and serve," shared STC Instructor Jennifer Rosillo.
Reflecting on her own journey, she warmly congratulated each graduate, acknowledging the sense of accomplishment they now share, "Congratulations to all; you made it."
Thirteen graduates from this semester's full-time academy celebrated their achievement alongside Victoria Rojas, Brianna Gonzalez and Cecilia Contreras who represent this year's part-time program, a 44-week offering for those who face challenges going to school during the day due to work commitments or family responsibilities.
For Rojas, a Houston native raised in Mexico, this experience was her first opportunity to go to college and a second chance at accomplishing her life-long dream.
“I moved to the United States when I was 18 and dedicated myself to my family. This was always my dream,” the 28-year-old shared. “When I was younger, I would tell my mom, who is no longer with us, that I wanted to be a police officer and she would say ‘You can be whatever you want to be, Échale ganas.’ She’s my inspiration.”
After trying out the medical field and even becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Rojas returned to her true passion and applied to a police academy in Corpus Christi. But, after acing all the exams, was rejected for failing her benchmark test by a small margin.
“It was devastating, but I didn’t want to give up. I did my clinicals in the Rio Grande Valley so I started looking here and applied to STC,” she said. “My husband works in construction so I encouraged him to come with me and open his own business. Now, we’re both accomplishing our goals together.”
As you step into your roles as peace officers, always carry the profound purpose of wearing that uniform and placing the badge over your heart - to protect and serve.
Rojas recognized how the program’s evening hours and part-time schedule helped her adjust to a new home and go to school, while assuring that her 8-year-old daughter is still taken care of.
"I'm already in the process of getting hired with the Alton Police Department. I'm really excited about it," she said. "I know that working in law enforcement comes with a demanding schedule, but I'm fortunate to have such supportive family who encourages me to pursue and achieve my dream."
On the other hand, for Gonzalez, 21, the part-time opportunity represented a steppingstone toward his dream career and has recently been hired with the Texas Department of Public Safety.
“I earned a CNA license while I was in Roma High School,” shared the San Antonio native. “But COVID-19 changed everything. I started to really think about what I wanted to be and pursued an associate degree in Criminal Justice from STC online.”
In 2022, Gonzalez moved to work for the city of Pharr as a dispatcher, but she quickly realized that being behind the scenes in public service was not for her and enrolled again at STC in 2023.
“It was a tough time. I would come to school from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. and then work night shifts for several weeks,” she said. “Now, I’m about to leave for Austin to become a state trooper, which means another academy, but this time I’m not going in blind and will not have to take my state exam since I will do it through STC.”
Gonzalez expressed gratitude for her instructors, for the patience and encouragement given, even at a both physical and academic demanding program.
A sentiment shared by Contreras, 21, who is also grateful for the opportunity to start the academy at 20 years old, getting ahead of the age restriction of 21.
“I have always known I wanted to be a cop. I want to help others and be of service,” she said. “My favorite part about the program has been the hands-on training. It has been challenging, but it’s rewarding to see what we have accomplished throughout the program and with the help of our instructors.”
In July 2024, STC is set to host an inaugural police academy at the Mid-Valley campus in Weslaco. For more information visit southtexascollege.edu/academics/law-enforcement/ or call 956-872-4208.