TSC Criminal Justice Institute grad vows to protect and serve Harlingen

Kayla Uribe was one of 28 students who graduated on Saturday from the Texas Southmost College Criminal Justice Institute during a ceremony hosted at the TSC Performing Arts Center.

At only 23 years old, Uribe said TSC’s police academy has given her the skills she needs for a lifelong career in law enforcement.

“I didn’t always want to be in law enforcement. I wanted to be a veterinarian,” she said. “But as I grew up, I realized what I really wanted was make a difference in my community by taking care of people; however, that didn’t lead me straight to law enforcement.”

Before enrolling in TSC’s Criminal Justice Institute, Uribe earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice, yet neither choice seemed right without law enforcement training.

What Uribe actually wanted was to become a law enforcement officer.

“Making the transition from a university to a training academy was daunting. I was nervous,” she said. “That didn’t last long though. As soon as I walked into that training center, I knew immediately that I had made the perfect choice. It was where I was supposed to be.”

The Brownsville native said she had no idea what to expect beginning a career in law enforcement, but the academy and its instructors ensured that no rock was left unturned during the program’s six-month training.

“This experience was eye-opening to say the least,” said Uribe. “I was trained and exposed to all types of scenarios, processes and laws we must know before setting foot in the field. I can honestly say I’m ready to hit the ground running.”

Uribe has been hired by the Harlingen Police Department, where upon completing and passing her licensing exam later this month, she will begin to protect and serve the residents of that community.

Although, at first, her family was unsure about her decision to enroll in the Criminal Justice Institute, they recognized her achievement.

“I’m my parents’ baby girl. It was hard on them, especially my dad,” she said. “It was just one small obstacle I had to overcome. As I progressed through the program and they began to see how happy and excited I was, it all turned around. They couldn’t be prouder of me pursuing my dreams despite their worries and beginning my life-long career.”

TSC Criminal Justice Institute Instructor Willemina Edwards said Uribe’s can-do attitude and spirit was contagious and impressive.

“Kayla is academically astute and solves problems quickly, something that is valuable in this field,” said Edwards. “She is very determined and capable of handling anything and I know she will excel with the Harlingen Police Department.”

Edwards added that she’s proud of all of her graduates. They have all had to endure the program while living through a pandemic, making an already demanding program, much more challenging.

“Our students have faced the challenge of merging online and in-classroom instruction,” she said. “These limitations have taught them how to overcome and adapt to the world and the environments they’re presented. As they head out into our communities, I know they will protect and serve, and I hope they will be welcomed with open arms.”

As for Uribe, she was able to celebrate her graduation with the two people who mean the most to her – her mom and dad.

“I hope that I have made them proud,” she said. “I have big dreams for myself. I want to help sex crime victims and become a detective. I know it’ll take a lot of hard work and dedication, but TSC has given me the foundation and fundamental skills I need to get there.”

For more information about TSC’s Criminal Justice Institute, visit tsc.edu.