Graduate Soars Past Adversity Finding Dream Career and Educational Goals

Criminal Justice Alumna Jessica Frew finds her dream career as a corrections officer and returns to A&M-Central Texas this fall for a graduate degree in homeland security

Jessica Frew, 36, Gatesville resident, has known more than a little adversity in her relatively young lifetime. Born in Kingman, Arizona, her mother moved their family to Killeen when she was just in the first grade. She remembers the wrenching poverty at home and going to a local church for clothes. But she also remembers how much she loved school where her teachers nurtured her love for science.

 Headshot Jessica Frew in her correction officer's uniform
Jessica Frew | Photo Courtesy of Texas Department of Criminal Justice

An honor roll student, she excelled in school despite the family’s circumstances. Her working mom directed traffic for law enforcement, holding down a job with the Arizona Department of Transportation, occasionally sharing her on the job experiences.

Along the way, Jessica graduated high school, became a certified nurse’s assistant, worked for hospices and hospitals, and moved away to Colorado where she enrolled at Aims Community College, pursuing a degree in criminal justice. In 2014, she graduated as the program’s first honors graduate.

Returning to Killeen in 2014, Jessica candidly references her difficulties with abuse and her determination to rise above the trauma she endured. In 2017, she underwent a cochlear implant operation to address a hearing loss she had suffered, but even then, her commitment to her studies never wavered.

She had enrolled at A&M-Central Texas in 2016, thriving in the university’s criminal justice program, completing her undergraduate degree in May 2020. Along the way, she had visited the university’s Career and Professional Development Office where she was encouraged by a staff member to apply for a job with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and their Correction Officer Academy.

“I was so hesitant to apply,” she said haltingly, remembering the moments when the position was brought to her attention. “But the CPD staff convinced me that I should try, so I did. I’ll never forget the moment when I received the email telling me that I was being offered the job.”

Now promoted to Corrections Officer, level four, Jessica has been with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for one year. Her supervisors, she says, have praised her performance, encouraging her to work toward the possibility of someday being a lieutenant.

“When I look back on all of the challenges and what I had to do to not just survive, but persist toward graduation, I’m glad I didn’t give up. But I owe that decision to those who supported me – everyone there, from faculty to friends to staff, were encouraging and supportive. They’ve all been my inspiration.”

Frew, recently accepted to the A&M-Central Texas graduate studies program in homeland security, will begin her studies this fall, as she pursues her degree – and works – fulltime.

“I’ve learned that the future is carved out of the decisions we make in the present – every day,” she observed. “I’m very proud to be thriving in my job and in my studies, and very thankful for the opportunities I’ve had at A&M-Central Texas.”

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