Newlywed police academy cadets graduate together, begin next step in their future

TSC Criminal Justice Institute cadets wed while attending the college's police academy.

Ruth Erwin has wanted to be a police officer since she was 10 years old. Camden Hesterberg decided he wanted a career in law enforcement when he was in high school. Two weeks ago, the newlyweds are one step closer to accomplishing their dream after graduating from Texas Southmost College’s Criminal Justice Institute.

“I’ve always wanted to be a police officer since I was 10 years old,” said Erwin. “I watched cop shows on television and thought, ‘Hey, this is cool.’ When I went to high school, I realized this was my calling.”

Erwin, originally from Matamoros and raised in Brownsville, earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice while living in Huntsville. She returned to the Rio Grande Valley after her then boyfriend, Hesterberg, a Brownsville native, told her about TSC’s police academy.

“My dad’s friend is a police officer in the Brownsville Police Department and he recommended TSC’s police academy when he heard I was interested,” said Hesterberg. “It made more sense because it was close to home. I talked to the CJI director at TSC, Ms. Edwards, and she convinced me to come to TSC.”

Both Erwin and Hesterberg were accepted into TSC’s police academy and began taking classes Jan. 6. Erwin was among nine females in the academy, the most in any previous class at TSC.

Less than three months into the program, the COVID-19 pandemic suspended in-class instruction and the couple, who married while in the academy, switched gears and adapted to remote instruction.

“It was a challenge for everyone,” said Erwin. “Some of the cadets have children and they persevered. For my husband and me, it wasn’t too bad. It was good to have him by my side. We helped each other out.”

Hesterberg said it was a little bumpy at first, but it didn’t affect them as much since he had a “built-in classmate.”

“It was nice being able to study together every day,” said Hesterberg. “We studied together before, but it was nice to be together the whole day. On campus, we were together, so being married and living together didn’t change too much. It helped.”

Although remote learning presented some challenges, the couple said their experience through TSC’s police academy has prepared them for a career in law enforcement.

“Ms. Edwards makes sure we get the instruction we need,” said Erwin. “We learned from it and how to apply it in the real world. I did a lot more studying here than at the university because this was preparing me for my career. It gave us a better understanding of how the police world works.”

Hesterberg’s goal is to become a Texas Ranger while Erwin wants to become a college campus police officer. As a couple, they feel they have an advantage and will understand what each other is going through professionally in the field.

“It’s not going to be easy,” said Hesterberg. “But we’ll have an easier time understanding what the other person is going through as opposed to only one of us in this line of work. We’ll support each other just like we did in the police academy.”

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