Texas Border Business
By Selene Rodriguez
This summer, Marisa Zepeda will be one step closer to becoming a police officer when she graduates from the South Texas College Police Academy, a career she has always had the passion to pursue.
The 29-year-old said this has been a long time coming, when after high school she decided to push school aside to dedicate her time to her growing family.
But after her mother’s passing in 2020 due to COVID-19, Zepeda, by then a mother of five, was inspired to return to school.
“My mom set an example for us to follow our dreams and I wanted my children to see that it is possible,” said Zepeda. “I’ve wanted to be a police officer ever since I was kid, it’s just a dream that I could never let go.”
Born in Mission to immigrant parents and with 10 siblings, Zepeda’s passion for law enforcement stayed consistent throughout her life, even beginning a journey toward a degree in Criminal Justice before her second child was born but eventually she dropped out.
In 2017 she decided to keep pursuing her dream by applying to the Alton Police Department. After failing to meet their requirements, she followed their advice to try the fire service, so she attended and completed the city’s Fire Academy.
“Both fire service and law enforcement are all about helping our community, which ultimately was my goal, but I didn’t see myself as a firefighter, so I didn’t pursue it,” she said. “I then ended up having three more kids and just decided to be a stay-at-home mom. After everything that happened with COVID though, I decided it was my time and looked into STC.”
Zepeda said her day-to-day juggling classes and mom duties has been tough, but it’s a sacrifice she’s glad to be making, at least while she finishes the 22-week academy.
Every day she wakes up at 6 a.m. to get her son, 12, her three daughters (7,9 and 4) and herself to school while her husband cares for her youngest, 3, in San Antonio, where he works during the week. Her sisters not only help her pick her children up from school, but also take them to their extracurricular activities such as soccer and cheerleading.
“Both my husband and I come from big families so it’s been easy to find someone that can help, but when it comes to my youngest, it’s so much harder,” she said. “He had a hard time adjusting to daycare, so my husband takes him with him to San Antonio and I don’t get to see him until the weekend. It breaks my heart every time he calls me to say he misses me.”
But still, after spending the day studying and training at STC’s Police Academy, she goes home to her other children to cook dinner, help with homework and finish hers late at night.
“I still don’t know how I’m doing it, but I’m almost there. My children and my siblings have already told everybody that I’m going to be a police officer and they tell me they’re proud of me all the time. It feels amazing,” said Zepeda. “This is a career that requires everything of me and I’m willing to make the sacrifice to have a better life for my children. It takes a lot of time and effort to be away from them, but this is an investment for our future together.”
STC Law Enforcement Instructor Jennifer Rosillo, praised Zepeda’s dedication and the bright future that awaits her in law enforcement.
“It’s clear that she has her heart set on becoming a Peace Officer and I’m certain she’s going to succeed,” said Rosillo. “Her dedication and commitment are exceptional; I can’t wait to see her put that badge over her heart and wear that uniform with pride.”
Zepeda’s goal after graduation is to work as a school police officer to continue caring for her children while fulfilling her dream and to become a homeowner; she will also only be a couple of classes shy to get an associate degree in Law Enforcement.
“It’s been amazing to see that all my sacrifice has been worth it. STC’s Police Academy has been an amazing opportunity for me to reach my lifelong dream,” she said.
For more information on STC’s Police Academy and the other programs and trainings at the STC Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence, visit