Badge of honor: TSC police academy grad serves community

Mario Vicencio grew up with the dream of becoming a law enforcement officer and following in his parent’s footsteps.

Today, thanks to the Criminal Justice Institute at Texas Southmost College, the 25-year-old has begun his career as a police officer with the Combes Police Department.

“TSC and its training set me up with a lifelong career,” said the Brownsville native. “I’m finally following my passion and making my dreams come true.”

After working full-time during the day to earn a living while he pursued his dreams, and completing his law enforcement training by night at TSC, Vicencio graduated from the Criminal Justice Institute with his basic peace officer certification in December.

“I had to wait until I was 21 years old to apply at any police academy, so I did the next best thing,” he said.

And that was becoming a detention officer. At only 18, Vicencio worked for the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office. He served there for nearly seven years.

Growing up and watching his dad work as a Border Patrol agent and his mom as a customs officer with U.S. Customs Border and Protection, he gained a sense of servant leadership and quickly realized that his passion was helping others.

So, immediately after high school he took on this responsibility with an open mind and open heart.

TSC opened my eyes to the world of law enforcement and gave me valuable experience, but it was a challenge juggling it all when I got into the police academy,” said Vicencio.

He worked 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Edinburg, then drove more than an hour to attend class from 5 to 10 p.m.

“I came into the academy with a lot of doubts, not about the program, but about myself,” he said. “I started second guessing my decision and my ability to pass and graduate. But Ms. Edwards made all of the difference for me.”

TSC’s Criminal Justice Institute Director Willemina Edwards is the reason why Vicencio chose to attend TSC.

“I credit her for getting me through the program,” said Vicencio. “She is always available to help a struggling student succeed, answer questions and instill in us professionalism and confidence. From the moment I met her, I could tell she truly cared about her students.”

For Vicencio, this was a big deal because that meant that he would be taught and trained in all proper processes and methods and be fully prepared to enter the field.

“The program and all of its instructors exceeded my expectations,” he said. “I was more than prepared to start my career and that’s important, because what I learn and do, affects those I serve.”

Vicencio said he highly recommends TSC’s Criminal Justice Institute to anyone thinking of a career in law enforcement because now his career possibilities are endless.

He plans to focus on gaining experience over the next few years, and then train to become a state trooper with the Texas Department of Public Safety and eventually become an investigator or Texas Ranger.

“I can think big now because of TSC,” he said. “The sky is the limit and I plan on aiming high.”

For more information, visit the TSC Criminal Justice Institute or call 956-265-3723.