TSC police academy to hold virtual graduation ceremony

Texas Southmost College Criminal Justice Institute cadet and U.S. Army veteran Josias Avina will graduate during the Texas Southmost College police academy virtual graduation ceremony on July 24. Courtesy photo

Port of Brownsville Police Chief Carlos Garcia will be the keynote speaker when the Criminal Justice Institute at Texas Southmost College holds graduation ceremonies on Friday.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the graduating class of 35 cadets won’t walk the physical stage like they have in year’s past, but instead will have the opportunity to participate in the TSC police academy’s first virtual graduation.

“I’m definitely excited to be able to graduate,” said U.S. Army veteran and CJI cadet Josias Avina “We’ve been waiting for more than six months to get to this point, even with the uncertainty of what’s been going on with law enforcement all across the country. We are excited to become law enforcement officers and set the example.”

Avina wants to be the kind of peace officer that he was exposed to as a youngster growing up in Brownsville.

“I always wanted to be a police officer, since I was a little kid,” said the 25-year-old cadet. “I had some good interactions with Brownsville PD near my house. They would talk to me and one time they gave me a sticker of a badge. I would pretend that I was a police officer.”

After graduating from Brownsville Porter High School in 2013, Avina enrolled and attended two semesters at TSC before enlisting in the U.S. Army. He served three years stateside, splitting time during his military service in the light and mechanized infantry.

The next phase of Avina’s plan brought him back to TSC. He was accepted in the college’s Criminal Justice Institute and began in January. He quickly demonstrated his leadership skills and was appointed sergeant-at-arms of his class.

When the pandemic struck the Valley in March, it put a wrinkle in his plans, but it didn’t stop him or the other cadets. They adapted and embraced a hybrid form of remote learning that’s grounded in two-way communication between the class and CJI Director Willemina Edwards.

“In policing, we have to adapt,” he said. “We can’t stay still because the world changes. At the end of the day, we have the same goal. It’s challenging for all of us. We started a group chat and have been supportive of each other. We’ve overcome the challenges together and the communication with Ms. Edwards during pandemic has been great.”

For more information about TSC’s Criminal Justice Institute, call (956) 295-3723 or (956) 295-3724, or email criminaljusticeinst@tsc.edu.