I wish I had a cookie cutter, straight arrow, proud story to share, but mine is more of the zigzag variety. I did not graduate from regular high school with my class. Because of unforeseen familial circumstances, I had to drop out of high school in the beginning of my senior year and I eventually earned by GED diploma. From there, I went to the local junior college and got accepted into the nursing program, but had to leave after one year to take care of my daughter after my divorce. I ultimately decided to become a Deputy Sheriff. I moved to Florida from Arkansas in June of 2018 and I started classes at HCC in August. I graduated in spring of 2020 and I am now attending St. Leo University pursuing my BA in Clinical Psychology, with the ultimate goal of becoming a Law Enforcement Officer psychologist.
In my experience, Law Enforcement Officers (LEO) in general are a very proud people and even though we get hit with devastating cases regularly (which is mentally and physically exhausting!) we tend to not talk about it. These scenes that we happen upon are not easily forgotten, baggage that will stay with us long after the paperwork is finished. I realized that LEO’s can suffer from PTSD and triggers without speaking up… because we are proud and it’s literally what we signed up to do…our job. However, I noticed that we are still apprehensive to speak up. I know that this mentality is not healthy and I want to become a psychologist specifically to the LEO community, as one of them. Unless, you have put on a badge, you wouldn’t understand the mindset. It will definitely give me a leg up.
I chose HCC because it was closest to my house, and I am thankful that I did. I was new to Florida therefore I still had to pay “out of state tuition” for the first year but it was worth it. HCC offers small class ratios with big university quality professors. There is more one-on-one attention, and I never felt like I was being rushed or I was wasting my professor’s time. The setting was intimate, and the conversations deep. I maintained a 3.9 GPA and was invited to join the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society and became their Chapter Vice President in 2018 and the Chapter President in 2019. I had valuable experiences with my peers through our many community services projects which boosted my confidence and social awareness caliber. I was also a proud member of Psi Beta, the Psychology Honor Society. I am proud of both!
Professor Anthony Sardone, who teaches Sociology among other subjects, was a phenomenal support as I was navigating life threatening medical issues, and simultaneously doing the best I could to raise my three children and attend school. He frequently checked in on me and offered guidance and encouragement along the way. Because of him, I persevered and graduated on time! Also, Professor Tollie Banker, who teaches history was the greatest lecturer I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. She made every single class exciting, interactive and of course informative. I almost changed my major because of her! Brilliant, lovely lady. I will always fondly remember both of these professors whom I deeply admire and for whom I have an unwavering respect.
HCC holds a special place in my heart. This is where I started my true educational journey, the building blocks and first stepping stones of my future! I was immersed in different cultures and languages daily through my peers and this enabled me to learn about others, versus just being indoctrinated by stereotypes. It was quite impactful and something I will always remember.