Where are they now alumni profile – Meet Patrick Valenzuela
In 2014, Patrick Valenzuela finally realized the three goals he had set for himself 10 years earlier in high school: he had already joined the U.S. Navy and become a police officer. The third goal, to graduate from college, became a reality when the Glendale, Arizona, native earned an associate degree in law enforcement technology from Rio Salado College.
His degree was made possible thanks to a partnership program between Rio Salado and the Arizona Law Enforcement Academy, now the Phoenix Regional Police Academy.
“The partnership gave me college credits for courses we were learning during police academy training,” Valenzuela said. “This, along with previous college credits I accumulated at other universities, put me on the fast track to my associate degree.”
Valenzuela said taking online classes had its challenges, but was also instrumental in preparing him for future success.
“I worked a stressful job at night, had young children, and was managing my full-time online class schedule,” Valenzuela said. “I would be remiss not to mention that this provided me with the foundation that I would need to succeed in the future.”
Specifically, he singled out time management as a positive lesson gleaned from online learning.
“The biggest tip I can give to online students is to be flexible,” Valenzuela said. “There are going to be times when life happens. However, if you manage your time appropriately and remain flexible with your responsibilities, it can be accomplished.”
Today, Valenzuela is a police sergeant with the Glendale Police Department.
“My education, which began at Rio Salado, put me on the track to success within my organization,” Valenzuela said. “It will continue to be a driving factor going forward into the future.”
Since graduating from Rio Salado, Valenzuela has gone on to realize two more goals. He earned a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement management from Northern Arizona University in 2016, and a master’s degree in public administration from Grand Canyon University in 2018.
“When I returned to Rio Salado, I had been out of the academic learning environment for over seven years,” Valenzuela said. “My instructors were extremely professional and helpful during my reintroduction to the classroom. It put me on the path to complete higher levels of education which seemed so unattainable prior to Rio Salado.”
Valenzuela credits the confidence his educational achievements have given him in setting future goals.
“My future aspirations consist of continuing to promote within my organization and leave it a better place than when I found it,” Valenzuela said. “I want people to see police officers for who they truly are and have positive interactions with people who can help change any negative perceptions they may have of them.”
For those considering their future education options, Valenzuela suggests Rio Salado College.
“I would recommend Rio Salado to future students because the people who work there are truly committed to your success,” Valenzuela said. “They take a personal interest in your academic plan and put you on the right path to achieve the ultimate goal.”
Get started on your Rio Salado College journey today!
By Mira Radovich, Rio Salado College PR & Marketing Analyst