A career in law enforcement is unwavering vision for Visalia Business Administration student
21-year-old Hector Negrete is not like so many in his age group who are trying to decide on a career path. He has known since he was a boy exactly what he wanted to be when he grew up, and what he needed to do to get there.
Law enforcement was his greatest ambition and he would strive for the highest rank he might achieve.
“I hope to be Sheriff of Tulare County one day,” says Hector, matter-of-factly. “I would see what our Tulare County Sheriff (Mike Boudreaux) would do, and I admired his effective strategies in communicating with people living in the community. I created a vision and hope to one day be in his shoes.”
The steps Hector has taken along the way have brought him closer to his dream.
As a boy, Hector was a member of PAL, the Tulare County Sheriff’s department’s Police Activities League program that builds partnerships between youth and law enforcement through activities such as sports, fitness and community volunteerism. Then, Hector joined the Sheriff’s Explorer program where he attained the rank of Captain.
Hector realized that education was key to his future in law enforcement. Although he lives in Earlimart, he enrolled in SJVC’s Business Administration program in Visalia, about 35 miles north of home. He chose the Business Administration program instead of the college’s Criminal Justice program due to wanting to keep an eye toward his future responsibilities.
“The more you move up in command, the more of a business person you become,” he explains. “You are writing grants, arranging schedules, doing accounting, making sure the department is up-to-date, and doing more supervising that requires a business background.”
With all his careful planning, Hector’s Business Administration program experience still brought a few surprises. “The way we (students) provide community service is something that’s awesome,” he says. “It just goes back to how you have to have the right team in business, to go out there and provide exceptional service to those who are living in your community. You provide that trust so that they know they can rely on you.”
Hector found other unexpected surprises: A sense of family with his fellow students and their shared level of professionalism. “We have a business-family life environment in the classroom, from the way we dress and communicate to letting each other know if we’re going to be late,” he says. “We have a potluck at the end of each module, and I’ve made some great, long-term friends there.”
“Hector has a demeanor about him that people gravitate to because he can relate to them,” says Kellee Irwin, General Education instructor. “His passion to help people is displayed in the classroom. He is the calm to the storm and is a great negotiator.”
Hector has held down a job since he was 17 years old, and it has been difficult at times to balance his busy life. “My greatest difficulty was being organized; last minute things don’t always go well,” he confesses. But quitting was never an option.
“I have a dream so big that it is worth more than my sleep,” says Hector. “No matter how hard it is, how little you sleep, you have to relentlessly work hard to achieve your desired goals.”
The rewards are starting to materialize.
In January, Hector was sworn in as a Deputy Sheriff trainee by Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux. Hector was also awarded a Pathways Scholarship whose funding helps local youth complete college and police academy training to return and serve their hometown communities.
“Hector will be a great asset to Tulare County as a deputy and a great representation of a graduate student from SJVC,” says Kellee. His determination, drive and perseverance have paid off.”
While working full-time as a deputy, Hector is about to complete his Business Administration program. Soon after, he will begin his six-month academy training. Next up, he will take steps to complete his Bachelor’s degree.
Hector will be the first in his family of 9 children (includes 4 cousins) to attend and graduate from college. “I want to be a role model and create that example that they can always look up to,” says Hector. “My family is my greatest motivation, and I want to make them proud.”
Hector has been running full-speed all his life, and there is one very important run he sees clearly in his future. As an elected office, campaigning for County Sheriff is an inevitable undertaking. Is he up to the challenge?
“I’ve been ready since I was about 16 years old,” he says. No one doubts him.
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