TSC police academy cadet maneuvers hybrid, remote courses to graduation

Texas Southmost College Criminal Justice Institute cadet and U.S. Army veteran Josias Avina celebrated graduation virtually on July 24.

Texas Southmost College Criminal Justice Institute cadet and U.S. Army veteran Josias Avina has planned to become a law enforcement officer since he was little, and he’ll take one step closer to making that plan a reality when he and his fellow cadets celebrate their graduation from TSC’s police academy on July 24.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the cadets won’t walk the physical stage like they have in year’s past, but instead will have the opportunity to participate in the TSC police academy’s first virtual graduation.

“I’m definitely excited to be able to graduate,” said Avina. “We’ve been waiting for more than six months to get to this point, even with the uncertainty of what’s been going on with law enforcement all across the country. We are excited to become law enforcement officers and set the example.”

Avina wants to be the kind of peace officer that he was exposed to as a youngster growing up in Brownsville.

“I always wanted to be a police officer, since I was a little kid” said the 25-year-old cadet. “I had some good interactions with Brownsville PD near my house. They would talk to me and one time they gave me a sticker of a badge. I put it in a wallet and I would pretend that I was a police officer.”

After graduating from Brownsville Porter High School in 2013, Avina enrolled and attended two semesters at TSC before enlisting in the U.S. Army. He served three years stateside, splitting time during his military service in the light and mechanized infantry.

The next phase of Avina’s plan brought him back to TSC. He was accepted in the college’s Criminal Justice Institute and began in January. He quickly demonstrated his leadership skills and was appointed sergeant-at-arms of his class.

When the pandemic struck the Valley in March, it put a wrinkle in his plans, but it didn’t stop him or the other cadets. They adapted and embraced a hybrid form of remote learning that’s grounded in two-way communication between the class and CJI Director Willemina Edwards.

“In policing, we have to adapt,” he said. “We can’t stay still because the world changes. At the end of the day, we have the same goal. It’s challenging for all of us. We started a group chat and have been supportive of each other. We’ve overcome the challenges together and the communication with Ms. Edwards during pandemic has been great.”

Despite the pandemic, Avina says his experience at TSC has prepared him for the next phase of his plan.

“It’s all in the training we get at TSC,” said Avina. “Ms. Edwards brings in subject matter experts to teach us, such as the Cameron County assistant district attorney who taught us about the penal code and an investigator from the Brownsville PD who has years of experience in the field. They know their stuff and share their stories and experiences with you so that you learn from them. They’re also very open and supportive.”

Avina also credits his wife and daughter, as well as his mother, for their support.

“My wife has always been supportive since I was in the military,” said Avina. “She’s always believed in me and the vision we have of the future for our family. My mom has been instrumental in shaping the man I am today. Even though it’s been difficult, I always make time to watch Princess and the Frog with my daughter for the one thousandth time.”

In addition to his goal of becoming a police officer, Avina plans to continue to pursue his education.

“I want to continue my education and get my bachelor’s degree,” he said. “I also want to be a K-9 officer. It’s a goal of mine. At the end of the day, in law enforcement, you can go where your merits and goals take you. I’ve always had goals I’m able to achieve.”

For more information about TSC’s Criminal Justice Institute, call 956-295-3723 or 956-295-3724, or email [email protected].