Shooting for the Stars: Police Employee Completes Degree Nearly 30 Years After High School


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Tuesday, June 27, 2023
Stephanie Shapiro proudly displays her graduation cap, adorned with a shining star, symbolizing her achievement in completing her associates degree. Congrats, Stephanie!
image of Stephanie's decorated cap

Nearly 30 years after completing high school, Stephanie Shapiro, a dedicated 18-year employee at the Tempe Police Department, decided to return to school in 2018.

It all started when her wife, who came from a family of educators, encouraged her to pursue higher education. Shapiro had not considered college after graduating from high school in '92, as she focused on raising her children and building a life. However, the idea of going back to school ignited a spark within her.

Shapiro works in the records section of the police department, where she frequently helped people with computer issues. Recognizing her natural talent for technology, her wife, Elissa, suggested she pursue a degree in computer technology. Shapiro took the advice to heart and enrolled in part-time classes. 

“I have taken at least two classes a semester since 2018,” she said. “I was even able to work full time and still do school during Covid.”

This spring, Shapiro completed her associates degree. She joined her fellow Class of 2023 graduates at the Rio Salado commencement ceremony on May 9. To celebrate, she decorated her graduation cap, something she didn’t get to experience in high school. With a feeling of pride and stardom, she chose a star as the symbol on her cap, representing her shining achievement.

“I felt like I was a star after finishing my degree,” she said.

With her degree in hand, Shapiro is still contemplating her future and is considering the prospect of pursuing a bachelor's degree at Arizona State University, where her wife works. Stephanie knows that she wants to explore different career paths in computer technology. The possibilities are endless, she said.

Reflecting on her journey, Shapiro shared advice for others contemplating a return to education.

“I think if they’re really ready to make a change and explore new options, go for it,” she said. “That’s pretty much what I did. I’m extremely happy I finally made it.”

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