A total of 31 cadets received certificates of completion in basic peace officer training during the spring 2013 graduation ceremony for the Middle Rio Grande Law Enforcement Academy at SWTJC.
The ceremony was held Friday, May 31, in the Matthew's Student Center Ballroom on the SWTJC Uvalde campus.
Alpha Class 2013graduates included Irene C. Alejandro, Jessica R. Alvarez, Pablo Balboa III, Juan P. Balderas, Corey R. Bolt, Zachariah C. Bradshaw, Jose L. De La Garza, Jr., Michael Daniel Duran, Carlos G. Flores, Jr., and Marcus J. Galindo.
Other members of the spring 2013 graduating class were Joshua A. Garcia, Rolando G. Gonzalez, Michael L. Hernandez, Roberto R. Lopez, Antonio R. Luévano, Sr., Carlos R. Maldonado, Jr., Alfonso R. Mallen, Jr., Kimberly Manglberger, Christopher L. Martinez, Leonardo Lee Martinez and Michael L. Martinez.
Also earning their certificate of completion were Abran Perez, Adan A. Perez, Daniel Ramirez, Ricardo Ramirez, Jr., Enrique J. Rivera, Marina I. Rodriguez, Brandon G. Smith, Aaron A. Villarreal, Raul Villarreal, Jr., and Remberto Villarreal.
Academy instructor Kara Lands was master of ceremonies. SWTJC Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Blaine Bennett delivered the invocation.
SWTJC President-Elect Dr. Hector E. Gonzales welcomed guests and congratulated this spring's graduating class. "This is the fun part of our job as administrators, to see students successfully complete a course of study," Gonzales said. "Congratulations to all the graduates. You have taken the first step in your career. I encourage you to continue your studies, because your education is something no one can ever take away from you."
According to academy coordinator Mike Leavene, 33 students started the academy in January and 31 graduated. All graduates passed the state licensing exam of the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE). Class average on the state exam was 87 with nine of the graduates scoring above 90.
Leavene also noted that the spring 2013 class is the first class to graduate under new TECLOSE rules increasing total instruction hours from 618 to 643 and adding three new training units.
"This class has made its mark. Many of them worked harder than they expected, but they stayed focused until the end," Leavene said. "They needed plenty of encouragement along the way and there is no doubt that the support of family and friends was a big key to the success of this class. We thank you for that."
Academy instructor Kara Lands recognized area law enforcement officers and first responders who taught various units during the five-month academy. Assisting with this spring's academy were Christina Busbee, Mark E. busbee, Fred Felix De La Cruz, Yesenia Flores, Andres Frias, Alejandro Guedea, Cliff Harris, Justin Lands, John Meyer, Daniel Molinar, Charles Patnote, Veronica M. Pinedo-Gracia, Alfredo Rodriguez, Manual Roman and John Simpson.
Retired Texas Ranger H. Joaquin Jackson was the guest speaker. Jackson served a total of 36 years with the Texas Department of Public Safety, including 27 years as a Texas Ranger.
Since his retirement in 1993, Jackson has been the author of two books and has acted in several motion pictures and made-for-television movies. He is also a member of the board of directors for the National Rifle Association.
Jackson began his comments congratulating the graduates for choosing a career in law enforcement. "You have chosen a career like no other in the world," Jackson said. "You'll come across lots of good and lots of bad. The public will scorn you at times and love you at other times.
"If there's one thing I could tell you to help you succeed it would be to be honest. Be honest with the public, but even more importantly be honest with yourself."
Jackson also encouraged the graduates to keep up with their training. "Stay in good physical condition and stay proficient with firearms," Jackson said. "Take care of yourself and you will be able to do a better job of caring for the public."
The retired Texas Ranger closed his presentation with one last piece of advice. "Say what you mean. Mean what you say and tell it like it is," Jackson said.
Class president Ricardo Ramirez, Jr., also spoke at this year's ceremony. "We worked, studied, agreed and disagreed with each other," Ramirez said. "But at the end of the day we always picked each other up and supported each other and that's why we made it."
A special presentation was made by class vice president cadet Tony Luevano who introduced a slide show featuring a recording entitled "The Policeman's Prayer" by the late Paul Harvey. The presentation was in memory of four area law enforcement officers, Michael Ray Schaefer, James Ray Dominguez, Jaime Padron and Aaron Luevano, who lost their lives over the past two years.
Class members also made a special presentation to academy coordinator Leavene, academy instructor Lands and academy administrative assistant Teresa Zamarripa.
Prior to the presentation of certificates, top graduates were recognized for excelling in various aspects of the academy. Class valedictorian was Roberto R. Lopez and Leonardo Lee Martinez and Brandon G. Smith were recognized for having the highest score on the state licensing exam.
Alfonso R. Mallen, Jr., was recognized for having the high qualification score in both firearms and mechanics of arrest. Ricardo Ramirez, Jr., had the high qualification score on the driving course and the high qualification score in physical fitness was awarded to Christopher L. Martinez.
Romelia Aranda, dean of workforce education, read the names of all graduates. President-elect Gonzales, vice president Bennett and vice president for academic affairs Dr. Mark E. Underwood assisted in the presentation of certificates of completion to all members of the class.
A reception for graduates, family and friends was held immediately following the ceremony.
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