Thirteen graduate from VC’s Law Enforcement Academy

Group Thirteen cadets who graduated this fall from Victoria College’s Law Enforcement Academy Basic Peace Officer Certification Class were honored on Dec. 13 with a ceremony at VC’s Emerging Technology Complex.

Abraham Ruiz was surprised to learn he was the first student to acquire an Associate of Applied Science degree in criminal justice at Victoria College from start to finish.

“I didn’t know that until they told me,” said Ruiz, who was one of 13 Victoria College Law Enforcement Academy cadets to receive their Basic Peace Officer Certificates during a graduation ceremony on Dec. 13 at VC’s Emerging Technology Complex. “I feel very blessed to be the first one.”

Thomas Kennemer of Victoria received the John F. Baylor Award, which honors the former Victoria Police Department officer and is given to the “most outstanding student” as selected by class instructors. Nathan Besler was named class valedictorian. Retired Seguin Chief of Police Kevin Kelso was the commencement speaker.

Other graduates from the 93rd class of Victoria College’s Law Enforcement Academy were John Balderamas of Beeville, Heath Barnett of Victoria, Nathan Besler of Edna, Jose Encina of Beeville, Aric Gamez of Beeville, Mark Jimenez of Beeville, Kelsy Mauer of Port Lavaca, Maria Mazuca of Victoria, Cassandra Myers of Victoria, Justin Price of Victoria and Kyle Winkler of Victoria.

“We went through a lot together,” said Barnett, who was chosen class leader. “We survived lectures on criminal and constitutional law, we studied traffic investigations and state traffic code. We don’t pretend to know everything. It seemed like the more we learned, there was even more we needed to learn.”

Ruiz, 21, was sponsored by the Victoria Police Department and began training at VPD after graduation. He took his prerequisite classes at Victoria College before attending the academy.

“We began offering the Associate of Applied Science degree in criminal justice in 2012, but Abraham is the first to have earned it completely through Victoria College,” said VC Law Enforcement Academy Director James Martinez.

“This is something I have wanted to do since I was young,” said Ruiz, a graduate of Victoria East High School. “What really motivated me was going on all the ride-alongs. I thought this was something I would want to do. The academy prepared me very well. It gave me the foundation I needed before I hit the streets.”

VC offers two academies a year – one during the fall semester and another during the spring semester. Both academies are held Monday through Friday with classes meeting 8 to 10 hours a day.

For more information on VC’s Law Enforcement Academy, call (361) 582-3208 or email

Photo caption: Pictured are, front row from left, Victoria County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Rick Alvarado, VCSO Lieutenant Chris Garcia, Victoria Police Department Lieutenant Ralph Buentello, Victoria College Law Enforcement Academy Director James Martinez and VCSO Investigator Tony Daniel; second row, Maria Mazuka, Kelsy Mauer and Cassandra Myers; third row, John Balderamas, Abraham Ruiz and Justin Price; fourth row, Aric Gamez, Jose Encina and Heath Barnett; and back row, Kyle Winkler, Thomas Kennemer, Nathan Besler and Mark Jimenez.