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Change of Careers Still Means Helping Others

For nearly 15 years Rebecca Herrera, '10, worked in the medical profession. During those years she was regaled with stories of stakeouts and shootouts from her husband José, a patrol officer with the Richmond Police Department. Herrera was in the middle of pursuing a degree in nursing at J. Sergeant Reynolds Community College when she changed degrees midstream and majored in administration of justice instead. The life of a police officer was just "too enticing."

After receiving her associate's degree she accepted a position with the Capitol Police and attended the police academy at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). She successfully passed the academy, receiving a physical fitness award along the way, and was commissioned as a police officer in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Herrera has been a member of the Capitol Police for nearly 10 years.

The Capitol Police is the oldest police department in the country, it was founded in 1618. Members of the Capitol Police protect and serve Virginia's government officials, employees and visitors of the Commonwealth.

Since she received her certification as a police Herrera has not stopped there, she has continued learning and bettering herself professionally. To that end, she enrolled in Averett's Adult Professional Program to pursue a bachelor's degree.

"I have always wanted to go back to school to further my education, but with a family and a full-time job it was not possible," Herrera said. "My mother retired and moved in with us, providing me the opportunity to make my dream come true.

"I looked at several schools before deciding on Averett. I chose Averett's Adult Professional Program because it gave me the flexibility of meeting only one day a week and only one class at a time. This seemed to be manageable with everything I already had going on.

"I feel being a student at Averett has helped in my professional career. After placing number one on the promotional list, I was promoted to the rank of sergeant. I strongly feel Averett prepared me for the sergeant exam." In addition to ranking number one for the sergeant position, Herrera also ranked number one for the corporal position.

Along with pursuing her bachelor's degree, Herrera has attended classes at the Department of Criminal Justice Services to get certification as an instructor. She teaches about safety, cultural diversity, communication during a crisis, bullying and internet safety in her community. She also attended the Virginia Victims Academy and is a domestic violence advocate. She is also a certified crime prevention specialist and has state and national certification in a number of different areas.

Since her promotion to sergeant in September 2009, Herrera has been serving as the accreditation manager for the Capitol Police. As accreditation manager, she is responsible for coordinating the law enforcement accreditation program within the division of the Capitol Police, develops agency policy and procedure, researches best practices, gathers proof of compliance to establish standards and preparation of compliance files. She also prepares the agency for review by outside assessors.

In two years, Herrera plans to take the lieutenant exam and advance from there. She would also like to pursue her master's degree, and her ultimate career goal is to one day become chief of police.

"Education is the key to success, I firmly believe that," Herrera said. " I know I made the right choice by selecting Averett University."

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