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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

SJVC Grad Fulfills Lifelong Goal with a Career as a Corrections Officer

May 6, 2021

Joanna Rojas Paredes knew from an early age that she wanted to be able to directly help people in her community; she also knew a career in law enforcement would be a great opportunity to do that.

The Criminal Justice: Corrections program at SJVC offered Joanna the training, support, and encouragement to push herself even further than she thought possible, helping her land a great job in corrections and setting her on a path toward furthering her career.

Here, Joanna tells us more about her time at SJVC and her career.

What did you do before you enrolled in the Criminal Justice: Corrections program at SJVC Temecula?

I was an Assistant Manager at Leslie’s Pool Supplies, and I was a Police Volunteer with the Murrieta Police Department.

How did you decide to attend the program at SJVC?

I felt stuck for a long time; I felt like I was going to stay at my job at the time because it was convenient. But one night, my mom and I were watching American Idol and a commercial for SJVC popped up. I attended the open house and saw that Mr. Chivington oversaw the program (Mr. Chivington was also in charge of the volunteers at the Murrieta Police Department where I was volunteering). I knew instantly that SJVC cared about their students and I knew that if I worked hard, with the help of SJVC and Mr. Chivington, I could get into law enforcement.

What was your favorite part of the program? What was the most challenging?

The most challenging part for me was the physical training. I was so embarrassed because I struggled to keep up with the rest of the class and I always seemed to be last. This has always been my struggle, and I had been used to running alone because of my slow pace, but at SJVC, a lot of my fellow cadets would run with me and push me to be better. By the time I finished the program, I successfully passed two physical tests with California and Arizona.

Where do you work now, and what are some of your responsibilities?

I currently work as a Correctional Officer with the Arizona Department of Corrections at their Lewis location in Buckeye, Arizona. I am assigned to Morey, which is a level four yard. I have been working there for about ten months now and it has been a learning experience!

I am scheduled on graveyard shift right now, so once I start my day at 6 pm, I make sure everyone gets their showers and makes their phone calls. Once everyone is secured in their cell, I make sure everyone stays alive.

Do you feel like SJVC prepared you for your current position?

I do believe that SJVC did help me with my current position. The program helped me understand that the only way I can fail is by giving up. Being in law enforcement means constantly adapting and learning—so I will always be challenged.

What advice might you have for someone who is just beginning this program?

My advice would be to stick with the program and finish strong because it’s worth it. I know firsthand that the hours can be tough—especially if you are also working. But at the end of the program, you will have a degree, knowledge of this profession, good relationships with instructors and classmates, but most of all, you will have confidence to go forward into getting a law enforcement career, which is probably the most valuable thing SJVC gave me. I have confidence in myself.

Is there anyone you would like to recognize from the Criminal Justice: Corrections Program?

I would like to thank Mr. Chivington and Mr. Munoz for always believing in me and pushing me to reach my goals. When California Department of Corrections denied me, I was very let down; Mr. Chivington and Mr. Munoz reminded me that I cannot give up and that if I really wanted a place in this field, I am going to fail a lot—the only difference between those who don’t work and those who do is that those who do work didn’t give up. Because of their words, I can proudly say that I work as a correctional officer. I am currently taking courses online at Arizona State University for my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and I hope that when I hit two years with the Arizona Department of Corrections, that I can find a position in the probation department.

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