Prior to becoming an officer, Denise Alvarez applied in 2013 to work at Rocketship Spark, a public charter school in San Jose. She saw the job post on Facebook from one of her friends who was going on maternity leave. Alvarez was between jobs at the time and thought she could temporarily replace her friend.
That didn’t work out, but Rocket Ship wound up interviewing her for an Individual Learning Specialist (ILS.) She was then hired at Rocketship Discovery Prep (RDP.) She knew immediately that RDP was where she was meant to be. In her students, she saw herself.
How did Ms. Alvarez Become Officer Alvarez?
Ms. Alvarez thought she wanted to become a police officer before joining Rocketship, but she wasn’t 100 percent sure. While at RDP, she became more and more motivated by her students to be a catalyst for change, and impact circumstances outside of school walls. She spoke to her students about her dream, and received an overwhelmingly positive response. The leadership team at RDP were also understanding and extremely supportive.
For Ms. Alvarez, becoming an ILS was the most important thing she could have done to mentally prepare for the Police Academy. She quickly learned it would be the hardest time of her life. Going into the hiring process, she was motivated and determined to create a world for students where they were safe in their own neighborhoods. It was also important for her to be a role model for her students. Giving up was never an option.
What Prepared Ms. Alvarez to Become an Officer
At Rocketship, Ms. Alvarez learned about her growth as a person and a professional. Officer Alvarez says, “My students made me a better person, a better officer. The Rocketship network pushed me to improve myself so that I could be better for my students. There were many hard times, but with no struggle there is no change. Rocketship prepared me for the police academy by teaching me discipline and time management. I will be forever grateful for my years at RDP. “
Advice from Officer Alvarez to Students
The advice I would give to them is to believe in yourself, and to be kind to others. I grew up in very similar circumstances to those students at RDP, and statistically, I was not supposed to be successful. What got me through some of the most difficult moments in my life, was my motivation to prove people wrong. I am a believer we are stronger together. You never know what struggles people might have. When choosing what kind of person to be, be kind.
Final words from the Author, Eva Heredia
My daughters were Ms. Alvarez’s students, and I know that she is definitely a role model for them. My daughters have built a strong relationship with Officer Alvarez that will be everlasting. We need to highlight more Latina leaders in our communities as an example to our young women!
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